Mountain View Voice

News - February 5, 2010

NASA still plans to house airships in Hangar One

by Daniel DeBolt

A NASA Ames official said on Tuesday that the agency still hopes to use Moffett Field's historic Hangar One to house lighter-than-air airships, standing by a proposal made a year ago.

"You may soon see airships flying around the area like we did in the 1930s," said Lew Braxton, Ames deputy center director.

Braxton clarified his agency's position after Congresswoman Anna Eshoo made a strong statement last week that a plan must be in place to reuse Hangar One if Congress is to approve funding to restore the massive structure.

The Navy is set to remove Hangar One's siding in November as part of a toxics cleanup, and NASA has struggled to find a way to pay for the restoration of the historic landmark.

"Hangar One is the Statue of Liberty of the West Coast," Braxton said.

Under President Obama's new budget for NASA, there will be an $80 million increase every year for five years for NASA to conduct aeronautical research. Whether some of that money could go towards saving Hangar One is uncertain, but Braxton said "We would like (Hangar One) to be a part of our aeronautical program," later adding that "We will have to see who has the deep pockets to address that."

Braxton also noted that "there are companies that are interested" in using Hangar One for the development of lighter-than-air aircraft for the U.S. Department of Defense, which Lockheed Martin is already doing.

Since its inception in 1939, NASA Ames has been working with defense contractors on the development of aircraft technology.

129th here to stay

Meanwhile, Eshoo announced Wednesday that the 129th Air Rescue Wing of the Air National Guard finally has a "permanent home" at Moffett Field.

Eshoo said in a statement that she has been pushing for 17 years to keep the unit at Moffett, where it is rapidly deployed to assist in disasters such as fires, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and various off-shore emergencies. NASA Ames and the Air Force have signed onto an agreement to allow the unit to stay for up to 50 years, giving its men and women some "much deserved stability," Eshoo said.

"To my constituents and the greater Bay Area this means we can continue to count on the 129th Rescue Wing in times of need, especially in the post-9/11 era," Eshoo said in a statement. "This is the first time in the history of the Unit that it will be operating with a long-term agreement."

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