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NASA Research Park

NASA Research Park is a San Jose, California. NASA Research Park was approved by NASA HQ in the fall of 2002 and over the past decade has grown into the research park it is today with over 50 tenants and partners.


  • Ames Research Center 1
  • NASA Research Park 2
    • Development 2.1
    • External Reviews, Recognition, and Oversight 2.2
  • Ames Core Technology Areas 3
    • Small Spacecraft Systems 3.1
    • Intelligent Adaptive Systems and Robotics 3.2
    • Integrated Next Generation Computer Systems 3.3
    • Materials Science and Thermal Protection Systems (TPS) 3.4
    • Human Factors and Life Sciences 3.5
  • Key Partners 4
    • Google 4.1
    • Singularity University 4.2
    • Carnegie Mellon University - Silicon Valley Campus 4.3
    • University of California Santa Cruz 4.4
  • Environmental issues 5
  • External links 6
  • References 7

Ames Research Center

The U.S. Congress originally established Ames Research Center (Ames) in 1939 as the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory under the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). Ames eventually grew to occupy approximately 500 acres (2.0 km2) at Moffett Field adjacent to the Naval Air Station Moffett Field in Santa Clara County, California, in the center of the region that would, in the 1990s, become known worldwide as Silicon Valley. In 1958, Congress created NASA with the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, 42 U.S.C. § 2451 et seq. The Ames Aeronautical Laboratory was renamed Ames Research Center and became a NASA field center.

Ames is nearing 70 years of age, which it calls “Seven Decades of Innovation,” highlighted with major accomplishments in aeronautics and space. From the 1940s through the 1990s, Ames scientists and engineers demonstrated excellence in flight research in many areas including variable stability aircraft, guidance and control displays, boundary-layer control, vertical and short takeoff and landing aircraft, and rotorcraft. Ames developed the swept wing design and the conical camber, now considered in the design of every supersonic aircraft.

Ames developed and operated critical facilities including flight simulators and wind tunnels, pushing the frontiers of computers and the arcjets facility to test materials at very high temperatures, which were critical to high-speed aircraft development and space vehicle re-entry. Ames largest contribution to the early space program for human missions was solving the problem of getting astronauts safely back to Earth, through the development of the blunt body design for re-entry vehicles.

Ames assisted the development of Apollo, developed and operated the Pioneer Missions (the first spacecraft to travel through the asteroid belts, observe Jupiter and Saturn and Venus), and developed the tiltrotor aircraft. The diversity of accomplishments led to the focus in the 1990s on Ames becoming the high-tech center of NASA. In those days in NASA parlance, Ames became the Center of Excellence for Information Technologies, taking the lead in human centered computing, a major interdisciplinary effort to develop means of optimizing the performance of mixed human and computer systems. These new technologies were critical for both aeronautics and space operations with ground-based operators, astronauts (or pilots/controllers in the air traffic management system) and robots functioning collaboratively to maximize mission science return, productivity and safety. This human centered computing focus developed the expertise for Ames to become the lead for all supercomputing in NASA, and in 2005 Ames operated the world’s fastest supercomputer, partnered with SGI and Intel.

In the 1990s, following its historic excellence in life and space sciences, Ames developed a focused new program called Astrobiology to search for the origins of life in the universe. Ames leads NASA’s Kepler Mission, a spacecraft designed to find Earth-sized planets in other galaxies that may be in or near habitable zones, distances from a star where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Ames developed SOFIA, the new Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, using a Boeing 747 aircraft that will study the universe for the next twenty years in the infrared spectrum.

Concurrent with the outstanding innovations in science and technology, Ames has become the leader in NASA for innovative partnerships with universities and industry, both onsite and in distance collaborations. The opportunity for this new partnering became available in the early 1990s, with the potential for R&D partners to move into the property obtained from the transfer of Navy Moffett Field land to NASA.

From its establishment in 1939, Ames shared the land generally known as Moffett Field with the United States Air Force, used the Moffett Field facilities, and in the late 1980s the Navy operated the base.

With the enactment of the Base Realignment and Closure Act in 1991, Congress directed the Navy to close and vacate the Naval Air Station at Moffett Field. Under the framework of the Federal Property Administrative Services Act of 1949, 40 U.S.C. §471, NASA successfully negotiated custody of most of the Navy property, with the strong support of the local governments surrounding Moffett Field and the U.S. Congressmen from the area, especially Rep. Norman Mineta. The decision was properly approved through the federal government process to transfer the property to NASA and disestablish the Naval Air Station Moffett Field. The United States Department of Defense decided to retain control of 57 hectares (140 acres) of military housing at Moffett Field. In 1994, the Department of the Navy transferred approximately 600 hectares (1,500 acres) to NASA. This transfer created a unique opportunity for NASA to provide stewardship for the entire 800-hectare (2,000 acre) site, except the military housing.

Prior to obtaining control of Moffett Field, NASA prepared the Moffett Field Comprehensive Use Plan (CUP) to implement its management program for the newly expanded Ames. An Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact accompanied the plan. The EA established under the CUP allows for the development of up to approximately 102,000 square meters (1.1 million square feet) of new construction.

The transfer of Moffett Field to Ames supplied the impetus to consider various new uses of the property for NASA’s benefit. Ames leaders began discussions with federal, state and community leaders for potential reuse ideas.

NASA Research Park

In November 1996, the neighboring cities of Mountain View and Sunnyvale formed the Community Advisory Committee to study and provide input to Ames about the best reuses of Moffett Field. Ames developed a six-point initiative, which outlined program goals and reuse concepts for the development of the former Navy base that basically focused on university and industry building on NASA property as R&D collaborative partners. In 1997, after extensive public outreach and public meetings, the final report advisory committee endorsed NASA’s six-point initiative, which established the plans to develop what became the NASA Research Park.

Ames leaders reviewed studies of research parks worldwide and continued to work with the neighboring communities in preparing its preferred development plan. In 1998, Ames and the cities of Sunnyvale and Mountain View signed a memorandum of understanding to work jointly on development. Also, a number of major universities were involved in planning their potential roles in development. In mid-1998, Ames leaders presented their plan to NASA HQ and secured approval to proceed.

On December 8, 1998, NASA unveiled its visionary concept for a shared-use R&D and education campus for collaborations among government, industry, academia and non-profit organizations at a national press conference with NASA Administrator Dan Goldin. Over the next year, MOUs for planning development were signed with the University of California, Carnegie Mellon University, San Jose State University and Foothill-DeAnza Community College.

In addition to federal, state and community leaders’ inputs, Ames worked closely with a number of economic development and industry organizations in focused groups by industry: information technology, bio-technology and others to understand the needs of Silicon Valley high-tech industry. In 1999, this vision was outlined in an Economic Development Concept Workbook, which won the 2000 American Planning Association Award.


NASA’s goal is to develop a world-class, shared-use research and development campus in association with government entities, academia, industry and nonprofits. The NADP/EIS provides a framework to guide the use, renovation, management and development of facilities at Ames over the next 20 years to achieve that goal. The NRP supports NASA’s overall mission in three areas: advancing NASA’s research leadership; facilitating science and technology education; and creating a unique community of researchers, students and educators.

NASA’s recent vision and mission statements recognize that not from NASA alone, not from industry alone and not from universities alone will tomorrow’s innovations emerge. They will come from the integration of these different segments, each making the most of their unique attributes—NASA’s focus on high-risk, long-term research; industry’s ability to react quickly with applied technologies; and the universities’ expertise in educating and providing a vibrant workforce for the future.

The Vision for Space Exploration (VSE) announced in 2004 requires NASA to reach out and partner with all kinds of relevant organizations to sustain the long-term vision. The NRP has and is continuing to bring together outstanding diverse partners, assisting the pursuit of the VSE and other NASA programs. Through the interaction of academia, industry and nonprofit organizations at a robust federal laboratory, a unique community of researchers, students and educators with a shared mission to advance human knowledge will be created. This is the goal of the NRP.

In October 2011, the President issued a Presidential Memorandum "Accelerating Technology Transfer and Commercialization of Federal Research in Support of High-Growth Businesses" that directs federal agencies to "Facilitate Commercialization through Local and Regional Partnerships. Agencies must take steps to enhance successful technology innovation networks by fostering increased Federal laboratory engagement with external partners, including universities, industry consortia, economic development entities, and State and local governments." and "to use existing authorities, such as Enhanced Use Leasing or Facility Use Agreements, to locate applied research and business support programs, such as incubators and research parks, on or near Federal laboratories and other research facilities to further technology transfer and commercialization. I encourage agencies with Federal laboratories and other research facilities to engage in public-private partnerships in those technical areas of importance to the agency's mission with external partners to strengthen the commercialization activities in their local region." NRP has implemented this directive through its program of onsite and offsite industry and academic partnerships.

External Reviews, Recognition, and Oversight

2000 American Planning Association, Northern California Chapter. Early in the planning process for NRP, NASA prepared its NRP Economic Development Concept Workbook used to brief key stakeholders in Silicon Valley and test real estate development concepts with end user technology companies.

2000-2001 National Research Council. As part of the planning process for NRP, NASA commissioned the highly regarded National Research Council to review the NRP concept. The National Research Council conducted a workshop and published its findings in "A Review of New Initiatives at NASA Ames Research Center: Summary of a Workshop." A key finding was that the proposed NSP would represent a "new model for Industry-Government Partnerships."

2003 General Services Administration Award. The General Services Administration (GSA) awarded its Seventh Annual GSA Achievement Award for Real Property Innovation to NASA for its NASA Ames Development Plan that established NRP. In making the agency's award, GSA Administrator Stephan A. Perry stated that "as our country changes, our mandate for excellence is creating an every more responsive government to serve our citizens better...(the) NASA Ames Development Plan will provide an integrated, dynamic research and development community."

2008 Deal of Year. The San Jose/Silicon Valley Business Journal gave its top "Deal of the Year" award to NASA and Google for their landmark ground lease of 42 acres for an office/R&D development.

2009 National Research Council. Eight years later, the National Research Council reviewed NASA Research Park as part of its influential "Understanding Research, Science, and Technology Parks: Global Best Practices: Report of a Symposium." Citing NRP as an example of global best practices, the Council found that NRP had made "great progress, exceeding expectations and enacting NASA plans with remarkable effectiveness."

2011 Keynote Speaker Association of University Research Parks. Mr. Michael Marlaire, Director of NASA Research Park was invited to give a keynote speech at the 2011 annual convention of the Association of University Research Parks in New Orleans, LA. With an international membership, this pretisgious association's mission is to foster innovation, commercialization and economic growth in a global economy through university, industry and government partnerships.

2013 BBC TV Feature. NRP and its innovative tenants were featured in the lead episode of BBC TV's Horizons: An Insight into the Future of Global Business. The show can be viewed at the BBC TV website:

Ames Core Technology Areas

The Business Plan reviewed current partners and suggested future partners based on the core technology areas being pursued by Ames. Current and future NRP partners will contribute to breakthroughs in the areas in which NASA and Ames possess traditional competencies, such as aeronautics, air transportation management, robotics and information technology. While these core areas consist of technologies that are relatively mature, they require further advancement to enable the next generation of space flight and air travel. The development of these technologies is a key driver behind NASA’s mission; as such Ames will seek to create partnerships that support these areas as described below.

Small Spacecraft Systems

Ames has pioneered the concept of small spacecraft and their potential for accelerating NASA’s progress in exploring the moon and solar system. By inserting a mix of microsatellites and miniature landers into NASA’s existing plans for robotic lunar exploration, the agency will be able to make great strides in a shorter timeframe and at a modest cost.

In May 2006, NASA’s Exploration Systems Directorate assigned Ames the responsibility for developing small spacecraft missions to support agency exploration goals. Underlying this decision was the expectation that many of NASA’s goals could be achieved with targeted, low-cost proposals in the $50 to $100 million range—much lower than traditional NASA missions.

The success of this program will depend in part upon partnerships with industry. Increased collaboration with the NRP’s university-led Center for Robotics and Space Exploration (CREST) will aid in the development of specific concepts for future small spacecraft missions, and will accelerate the advancement of the supporting technology for these missions.

Closer relationships among NASA, industry partners, and academic institutions will allow for a degree of progress in this area that would otherwise be impossible. Adaptation to the scale of small, low-cost missions will be difficult for both NASA and industry, but can be achieved in short order in a collaborative environment. Furthermore, partners, such as Google, may contribute non-traditional yet valuable expertise to the venture of developing computer systems for the new low-cost payloads.

One of the NRP partners, m2mi (machine-to-machine intelligence) developed the third ever in NASA, Cooperative Research and Development Agreement or CRADA, that will combine their unique capabilities in software technology, sensors, Global Systems awareness, adaptive control and commercialization capabilities with Ames’ expertise in nanosensors, wireless networks and nanosatellite technologies to develop a Fifth Generation (5G) (VOIP-Video-Data-Wireless-m2mi) telecommunications system. A large number of these nanosats (a constellation) will be placed in low earth orbit (LEO) to provide the first ever, Fifth Generation (5G) Telecommunications system to enable Internet Protocol (IP) based services to the global user community.

Intelligent Adaptive Systems and Robotics

The next generation of space exploration systems will require a much greater degree of system intelligence than is currently available. The ability of systems to engage in autonomous decision making and to adapt to changes in the environment will enable NASA to expand its operations in austere environments, reduce costs of operations, and increase safety. NASA and Ames have been leaders in the development of these kinds of systems. However, by leveraging the base of knowledge in the commercial world, and by working with partners at the cutting edge of this technology, NASA can advance its science base in automated learning, intelligent execution and adaptive control beyond what is currently possible. There is great potential with Carnegie Mellon University’s expertise in this area along with many Silicon Valley businesses.

Integrated Next Generation Computer Systems

NASA’s spacecraft, landers, and other exploration systems are heavily reliant upon computers, sensors and information technology. By partnering with the top firms in these areas, Ames will be better positioned to integrate these technologies into future NASA architectures. Google, Cisco, and Apprion are examples of companies currently in negotiation with Ames, and could add a great deal of value to this area once brought on board. Other potential partners include Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, Intel, AMD, and a host of other IT firms located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Materials Science and Thermal Protection Systems (TPS)

Ames has played a significant role in the development of the TPS system for the Space Shuttle and possesses the baseline capabilities needed to develop systems for future spacecraft. NASA can greatly benefit by reaching out to partners beyond the pool of traditional suppliers of orbital thermal protection technology. For example, Ames will reach out to major chemical companies such as Dow Chemical, Du-Pont and BASF, to involve them in the search for next-generation heat shielding solutions. Such collaboration will greatly enhance the pool of talent available to advance technology in this area, and will advance the technology for future space transportation systems. In addition, nanotechnology materials development has great potential in the NRP as a number of companies and universities are interested, including the UCSC planned construction of a new Bio-Info-Nano R&D Lab.

Human Factors and Life Sciences

To ensure the highest degree of safety and efficiency, future space exploration will require a greater understanding of the impact of low and zero-gravity environments upon human physiology. The effects of prolonged exposure to the low-gravity of the moon, for example, will challenge the ability of future explorers to maintain a significant lunar presence. As a result, NASA must continue to charge forward in developing technology and processes that overcome this challenge. Areas of current collaboration in the NRP include advanced muscle augmentation and bone density growth. Ames is currently working with NRP partners Changene and Tibion to advance these technologies. Ames has also been working with firms such as Bigelow and Hamilton Standard on water filtration devices for use on board future spacecraft or orbital habitats. The San Francisco Bay Area hosts over one-third of the world’s biotech companies and discussions are underway with the potential for a biotech cluster in the NRP.

Key Partners


On September 30, 2005, NASA and Google announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at a national press conference to pursue R&D collaborations with Ames in the areas of: large-scale data management; massively distributed computing; Bio-Info-Nano Convergence; and R&D activities to encourage the entrepreneurial space industry and plan to build 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) of new facilities. In 2006, NASA and Google signed a major Space Act Agreement for Research and Development Collaboration with planned continuing new R&D annexes being added. In 2007, Google announced their Lunar X PRIZE, a $30 million international competition to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send images and data back to the Earth. In 2008, Google Inc. and NASA signed a long-term ground lease for 42 acres in NRP. The San Jose Business Journal awarded the NASA/Google ground lease its "Deal of the Year" award in 2008. In late 2012 Google broke ground to construct up to 1.2 million in new office/R&D facilities near its Googleplex in Mountain View, CA. Google released details of its planned construction of its new campus to [1] Vanity Fair in February 2013 and simultaneously issued a press statement confirming construction plans to the media. The announcement has been reported internationally, including the [2] Wall Street Journal in the United States.

Singularity University

Singularity University was jointly founded by Dr. Peter H. Diamandis and Dr. Ray Kurzweil. The concept of a new university that could leverage the power of exponential technologies to solve humanity’s grand challenges was proposed by Diamandis to Kurzweil and to International Space University colleagues Dr. Robert D. Richards and Michael Simpson in April 2007. An exploratory meeting was held at NASA Research Park, Moffett Field in November 2007, followed by a Founders Conference on September 20, 2008 also hosted at NASA. Singularity University opened in the summer of 2009 and has attracted widespread press coverage of its classes, competitions, and events.[1] It hosted over 150 students in 2011 and has a faculty and staff of 40 located at NRP.

Carnegie Mellon University - Silicon Valley Campus

In 2002, Carnegie Mellon University established a branch campus in Silicon Valley to connect its many distinctive technology education programs to the innovative business community at the epicenter of the 21st century technology revolution. The university's Silicon Valley Campus offers master’s programs in Software Engineering, Software Management, Engineering & Technology Innovation Management, and Information Technology, as well as a bicoastal Ph.D. program in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a focus in Mobility offered in conjunction with the new CyLab Mobility Research Center. Over 600 graduate-level students have received degrees at the Silicon Valley campus located in two historic buildings at NRP.

University of California Santa Cruz

UCSC has been a planned major partner in the research park from inception. Originally, UCSC selected the park as the preferred site for their new Silicon Valley Center and signed a MOU in December 1998 announcing their plan to join. In 2000, UCSC signed a Letter of Intent with NASA to build approximately 600,000 square feet (56,000 m2) of new office space, R&D labs, and classrooms. In 2008, UCSC and NASA signed a long-term ground lease for 77 acres for a mixed use campus including 1,930 units of rental housing, education, office/R&D, and support retail.

Environmental issues

The Navy has the responsibility to remediate the PCB hazard in the metal outer structure of the Hangar One building. The exterior skin is in the process of being removed, and the course of action for the remaining structural skeleton has yet to be publicly announced. The long and public process - of developing and analyzing courses of action - is ongoing. Many have expressed hope that this dynamic 360,000 square feet (33,000 m2) historic icon of the South Bay Area can be saved and utilized for a public purpose.

Parts of the research park lands are on a superfund site. However, NASA studies have shown that the lands are still usable and only require a particular type of construction.

External links

  • NASA Research Park
  • NASA Ames Research Center


  1. ^ See New York Times:
  1. National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, 42 U.S.C. § 2451 et seq.
  2. “Seven Decades of Innovation” Ames Research Center, by NASA Ames historian Jack Boyd
  3. NASA Ames Research Center. NASA Ames Research Center Economic Development Concept Workbook, June 1999
  4. National Academies Press (2001)

“A Review of the New Initiatives at the NASA Ames Research Center: A Summary of a Workshop” Authors: Charles W. Wessner, Editor, Steering Committee for Government-Industry Partnership for the Development of New Technologies, Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy, National Research Council

  1. NASA Ames Development Plan 2002, NASA Ames Research Center
  2. DCE, 2002. NASA Ames Development Plan, Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, NASA Ames Research Center, Design, Community, and Environment, July 2002.
  3. Real Property Policysite, Best Practices Special Edition Fall 2003, General Services Administration Office of Governmentwide Policy
  4. Enhanced Use Leasing statute, H.J.RES.2

Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003 (Enrolled as Agreed to or Passed by Both House and Senate) ENHANCED-USE LEASE OF REAL PROPERTY DEMONSTRATION

  1. NASA Strategic Plan 2007
  2. Vision for Space Exploration, announced by President Bush, press release Office of the Press Secretary, “President Bush Announces New Vision for Space Exploration,” January 14, 2004.
  3. Explore Space, NASA Research Park Business Plan 2007
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