NASA 'committed' to re-skinning Hangar One

In a meeting Thursday night, NASA and Navy officials said that, for the first time, they are jointly "committed" to preserving historic Hangar One at Moffett Field, and that various options for restoring the Hangar will probably be released by the end of March.

"We are currently working to figure out the details of various options," said NASA Ames director Lew Braxton. "We all have a requirement to get back to Congresswoman Eshoo in a couple of weeks."

The hope of nearly everyone involved is to make sure a new exterior can be installed at the same time the old skin is removed later this year, using the same scaffolding. While NASA's tone was positive, there is still no funding allocated -- more than $15 million is needed -- to put a new skin on the 200-foot-tall structure, and the Navy still plans to remove its siding as part of an environmental cleanup in mid-December.

Braxton told reporters after Thursday's Moffett Restoration Advisory Board meeting that he was fairly confident funds would be found to restore the Hangar, but could not say when.

Braxton called the current state of cooperation between the Navy and NASA a "high-water mark," and made a conciliatory gesture by going out of his way to give a hug to Navy spokesperson Kathryn Stewart during the meeting.

"Everybody watch this," Braxton said. "NASA and the Navy are getting along."

The RAB meeting came on the heels of a White House Office of Management and Budget arbitration process that concluded that NASA is solely responsible for Hangar One restoration costs, ending negotiations that NASA hoped would result in the Navy helping to restore the structure by providing some of the up-front costs.

There had also been a recent meeting between the secretary of the Navy, the head of NASA, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and the OMB in which everyone agreed that "the Hangar needs to be preserved," Braxton said.

Braxton made comments indicating that NASA was seriously considering the use of private development funds to restore the Hangar. He said that he had gotten a tour of the former Ford auto plant in Richmond restored by Orton Development, a firm which has asked NASA to allow open bidding for Hangar One restoration. Orton wants to restore the structure and lease it out for various uses. "They did an outstanding job," Braxton said of the Ford plant.

There was still much skepticism from preservationists and members of the RAB who pointed out that there was no reason to believe that the Hangar's massive skeletal structure wouldn't be left exposed to the elements when the siding is removed later this year. (The Navy said the schedule for siding removal has been pushed from November to mid-December.) RAB members decided to form a subcommittee that would meet more frequently about Hangar One in the coming months.

Funds still needed

NASA Ames employee Cheryl Orth suggested that a grassroots campaign be started to raise money to restore Hangar One -- which could cost anywhere between $15 million and $40 million -- from regular citizens.

"I would be happy to write the first check to Lew Braxton for $100," she said.

Lenny Siegel, director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight, said it was important to designate a reuse for the Hangar and a cost for restoration in order for the community to be more involved in saving it.

Braxton said he imagined there may be some sort of public-private partnership to fund restoration and reuse, and did not want to say how much re-skinning might cost so as to not influence possible future bids on the project.

In the next few weeks, Braxton said, NASA intends to narrow down a list of potential ways to fund restoration and reuse of the Hangar. There is still an early proposal to use Hangar One to house another large airship for aeronautical research, Braxton said, but NASA does not have such a program funded yet.


Posted by National Security Agency, a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 12, 2010 at 5:45 pm

"Braxton made comments indicating that NSA was seriously considering the use of private development funds"

I think you meant NASA instead of NSA

Posted by j. ravanelli, a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 12, 2010 at 6:32 pm

HOORAH!!! now if we could do something about the rest of nasa's budget......

Posted by John the Man, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 13, 2010 at 10:59 am

This is not news. This is junk.

They have an agreement. Hooray. But they still have no idea where the money to do this task is going to come from or even a timeline. THAT'S the only story in all of this, that they still are at square one about paying for all of this.

Until they get the $$ to do this, it's not a story, it's just junk. It's rumor and public opinion shaping, that's all.

Just tear the damn thing down already. If you REALLY think that people's lives are going to be appreciably better because you do OR don't keep the hanger, you have a pathetic life. Just tear it down, put that money towards things that would make people's lives appreciably better.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 13, 2010 at 8:06 pm

I think it is a good thing they are repairing the roof, although there are some questions about how it is to be funded.
Airships are making a slow return to use for security operations so a hangar like Moffett does have its uses.
Joe See: and

Posted by cranefly, a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 14, 2010 at 6:45 pm

It is awe-inspiring that NASA is setting for itself such an ambitious and far-reaching goal. I look forward to the day when I can tell my grandchildren all about how I witnessed this, the beginning of our conquest of the cosmos. Kudos!

Posted by Doug Pearson, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 15, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Years ago, when there was talk of using the Hanger to house a Moffett Air/Space Museum, I contributed to an organization set up to raise money for the project. That idea has apparently died, I'm sorry to say, but I would still be willing, as Cheryl Orth is, to contribute to the cost of re-skinning the Hanger.

Posted by kathy, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Mar 15, 2010 at 11:40 pm

I think if they added up all the man-hours (NASA/RAB etc) on this issue over the past few years the Government could have re-skinned the Hangar many times over. Our tax dollars at work, let's just do it and stop talking about it.

Posted by Edward, a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2010 at 7:48 am

I'm curious, what covers its big brother in Akron, Ohio?

Posted by Gx, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 18, 2010 at 8:03 am

I still think Google is missing out on a big PR opportunity here. They could reskin it and add a huge Google logo. The old Mountain View meets the new...

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