In exchange for carrying scientific equipment and an annual fee of $1.3 million, NASA is allowing Google’s founders to park their private jets at Moffett Field, which is generally closed to private aircraft.
Officials of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration told the International Herald Tribune that the agency signed a non-exclusive agreement last month with H211, a limited liability company that is controlled by Google’s founders, to place scientific instruments and researchers on jets owned by H211 principals, which in addition to the Boeing 767-200 includes two Gulfstream Vs.
The two-year deal between NASA and H211, calls for the later to pay NASA $1.3 million annually, plus extra fees for utilities, fuel and parking on Moffett Field.
“It was an opportunity for us to defray some of the fixed costs we have to maintain the airfield as well as to have flights of opportunity for our science missions,” said Steven Zornetzer, associate director for institutions and research at NASA Ames Research Center. “It seemed like a win-win situation.”
However, NASA clarified that some flights by Google’s founders from Moffett Field may have no link to research.
The agreement did not only spark interest amongst private jet owners and operators who want to access the airfield, but raised questions among local officials and community activists, who have long opposed the expansion of flights at Moffett Field.
Assessing the impact of the agreement, Zornetzer told New York Times that the space agency was not expecting the deal to create a large number of new flights at Moffett.
While NASA won’t reveal the number of flights planned under the agreement, the agency told San Francisco Chronicle that the airport’s overall traffic will remain below 25,000 flights annually, as required by Moffett Field’s environmental impact statement.