"Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wants to know if Google is getting a sweetheart deal from its lease of a California airfield operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In a letter to NASA administrator Charles Bolden, Grassley inquires as to "troubling allegations" regarding the fleet of aircraft owned by Google executives at California's Moffett Airfield, a former Naval Air station now operated by NASA."
"Ambrose also tells Grassley that H211 pays "above market rent" for the hangar at Moffett, and that the company has operated more than 150 scientific flights for NASA. A Google spokesman told The Hill that the aircraft are fitted with NASA equipment for these flights. Ambrose responded to concerns that the Google executives are purchasing fuel at a reduced price by telling him that the only fuel available at the field is controlled by a Defense Department contractor, "so that is the fuel we use."
Keith's note: Grassley's ace investigators seem to be unaware of the fact that the deal Google has for aviation fuel at Moffett Field is between Google and the USAF - NASA is not a part of it. Also, it would cost significantly less for Google to house its fleet at SJC or SFO than it does at Moffett Field where Google is paying premium price - and their jets are available for NASA to use. In addition, I am told that the 5% figure cited by Grassley for science flights is wrong - it is actually 15%. Other stories refer to "humanitarian groups" being denied access. Apparently a single, small organization run by an individual with no airplanes tried to get a deal. Its hard to store something that you do not have.
If this is a "sweatheart deal" then NASA is the one benefitting the most. Stay tuned. Oh yes, this agreement was initially negotiated and signed in 2007 and then amended. when Romney space advisor Mike Griffin was NASA Administrator. Griffin approved of it. An extension was signed in 2011 when Bolden was Administrator - and he approved of it also.