Why Google Just Signed $1 Billion NASA Lease

Is Google getting into the private space race?

— -- Google's latest endeavor may involve reaching for the stars.

NASA announced today that Planetary Ventures, a Google subsidiary, has entered into a $1.16 billion long term lease agreement for part of the former Moffett Federal Airfield on the San Francisco Peninsula in California

As part of the 60 year agreement, the Planetary Ventures plans to renovate three hangars and use them for projects involving aviation, space exploration, robotics and other emerging technologies, according to a statement from NASA.

NASA said the deal will save it about $6.3 million in maintenance and operation costs at the historic site. The agency will continue to operate the Ames Research Center on the grounds, while Google will take over the runways and hangars.

Planetary Ventures will also be tasked with creating an educational space where the public can learn more about the site and the history of technology in Silicon Valley.

While Google hasn't commented on its plans for the facility, the company has already entered the private space race with its Lunar X Prize, which offers a $20 million prize to the first group that can successfully land a robot on the moon no later than December 2015

To collect the prize, the robot must then be able to move 500 meters on, above or below the moon's surface and then be able to transmit HDTV "Mooncasts" back to Earth.

Google has been diving into the world of aeronautics. In April, the technology giant acquired Titan Aerospace, a drone company, just one month after it was reportedly being eyed by Facebook.

The company said the atmospheric satellites could be used to help bring Internet connectivity to millions of people around the world, help with disaster relief and allow researchers to learn more about how to solve environmental problems.