Space for rent: NASA leasing unused areas at key research centers

As NASA's needs have changed over the years, the space agency has found itself with an unusual surplus: space. Here's a few facilities NASA has rented out over the past years. 



    Hangar One, Ames Research Center, California
    A 1999 photo of the iconic Hangar One facility at Moffett Field, Calif. Built in 1932 by the Navy for the USS Macon, it served as the West Coast base for the U.S. lighter-than-air aviation program. Though a private company proposed leasing the space to house its aircraft, it would not be consistent with Federal law to do so. Yet NASA has no use for the property, and as such must get rid of it.
    NASA Ames Research Center


    NASA Ames Research Center, Calif.
    In 2008, Ames entered into a 90-year agreement with Planetary Ventures -- a Delaware company owned by Google -- for 42 acres of undeveloped land to develop business and research-related facilities. NASA received both cash and infrastructure improvements under this agreement. 
    Ames Research Center; captions by the OIG


    Ames Research Center, Calif.
    University Associates in 2008 leased 77 acres of land to develop business, education, research, and housing facilities on the property. As of February 2012, planned improvements have not begun. Seen here is a rendering of a proposed sustainable community for education and research by University Associates, a nonprofit Silicon Valley company formed by the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Foothill-De Anza Community College. Several NASA buildings on this parcel are slated to be demolished.  
    UC Santa Cruz / NASA / Foothill-De Anza


    Orbiter Processing Facility 3, Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
    In October 2011, Kennedy inked a 21-year agreement with Space Florida, an independent agent that promotes the local space industry, for use of the Orbiter Processing Facility 3, the Processing Control Center, and other peripheral buildings. Here, Space Shuttle Columbia is seen entering Facility 3.  


    Michoud Assembly Facility, Marshall Space Flight Center, La.
    This assembly building, where external fuel tanks for space shuttle such as this one were put together before shipping to Kennedy Space Center, was leased in July 2010 to Blade Dynamics. The company said it would use over 29,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space to build wind turbine blades.
    Lockheed Martin


    Ames Research Park, Calif.
    A Google Maps view of property at NASA's Ames Research Park leased to Google in 2008. The company said construction on a mixed use facility would begin in 2013. Ground has not yet been broken. 
    Google Maps


    Hangar Two, Ames Research Center, Calif.
    The $8 million Skyship 600B, leased in 1999 by fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger and as tall as a 747 jumbo jet, is seen inside hangar 2 at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. Sightseeing company Airship Ventures currently rents 24,000 square feet of space here to store a rigid airship. 
    AP Photo/Ben Margot


    John C. Stennis Space Center in Miss.
    In 2007, Rolls-Royce broke ground on an outdoor jet engine test facility, built at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Stennis appears to be pricing an agreement with Rolls Royce below the market rate for its buildings and charges no rent for the use of NASA land, the OIG reported. 
    Business Wire


    Plum Brook Station, Glenn Research Center, Ohio
    Founded in 1941 as the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory, Glenn Research Center houses wind tunnels, drop towers, vacuum chambers and an aircraft hangar -- as well as unique facilities that simulate the environment of space. Between Jan. 2009 and May 2010, NASA leased about 900 acres for agricultural use and hopes to someday develop this land into a visitors’ center and technology park.
    Glenn Research Center; captions by OIG


    Stennis Space Center, Mississippi
    NASA has multiple agreements with the Navy for the use of buildings and land at Stennis Space Center. Here computer scientists in the Geospatial Sciences and Technology Branch check on servers supporting the 2012 Olympics at one such facility.
    Naval Research Laboratory
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