Larry and Sergey yanked party plane from space mission
Nasa may be regretting a sweetheart deal it cut with Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In exchange for a 90-year lease on land at Nasa's Ames Research Center adjacent to Google's headquarters, the space agency made a side agreement with Page and Brin to let them park their fleet of private jets at Nasa's Moffett Field. The only requirement: That the Googlers loan out their planes for space research missions as needed. But it turns out that for Larry and Sergey, partying with politicians is more important than studying space.Larry and Sergey yanked a promised Boeing 757 from their private fleet, operated by a company called "H211 LLC," just weeks before the originally scheduled reentry date of the Jules Verne ATV-1 space freighter, forcing Nasa and the European Space Agency to scramble to find an old DC-8 to be able to observe the freighter's burn up in the Earth's atmosphere as planned. What prompted the Google execs to pull the 757, and jeopardize a mission of the American and European space agencies? Days before the announcement that the 757 was no longer available for the mission, the promised jet was instead used as a limo for San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom's wedding. But it should have been ready for action after the unremarkable flights to and from Montana. In the end, the Googlers did deliver one Gulfstream V party plane to watch the Verne burn. But one hopes it was a spare, not the same one used to chauffeur Larry, Sergey and their wives to the Google Maps satellite launch in September, right around the time of the originally scheduled reentry date. Was that the event which forced the rescheduling of the Verne mission? And if so, should Nasa be relying on billionaires' personal jets, and their whims, to complete complex, dangerous and time-critical missions?