NASA, UC Berkeley unveil plans for $2B space research hub in Silicon Valley

After a decades-long partnership, NASA's Ames Research Center and U.C. Berkeley announced on Monday their intention to deepen their collaboration.

"This is a wonderful neighborhood. With ample room for a second world-class university," said Dr. Carol Christ, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.

Accompanied by Dr. Eugene Tu, director of the Ames Research Center, and Dan Kingsley from SKS Partners, they unveiled plans for the creation of the Berkeley Space Center, a $2 billion, 36-acre innovation hub located in the heart of Silicon Valley.

San Francisco-based builder SKS Partners, along with state tax dollars, are providing partial funding for the project.

"When the University of California Berkeley and NASA combine their research brilliance in the geographical center of Silicon Valley, they will produce a critical mass of talent that will accelerate the aerospace industry," said Kingsley.

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Part of the proposed center is dedicated to open spaces, laboratories, retail, and 300 housing units, with some earmarked for university students.

"I think being immersed in such an interactive environment will also help students identify dire needs within aerospace. And I think that itself, will serve as a launching pad for new ideas and innovations for commercial space," said Hanna Nabavi, a UC Berkeley senior studying engineering physics.

Officials are leasing property and recruiting other high-tech companies to make the Berkeley Space Center their new home base. This development is anticipated to strengthen the foundation for future space exploration, allowing Golden Bears and others to venture boldly where none have ventured before.

"Having this campus built here will really facilitate that. And ultimately give us unprecedented access to students, to faculty, and to share, potentially, facilities," noted Tu.

The first phase involves conducting environmental impact studies, a process estimated to span two years. Construction of the initial building is projected to happen in five years.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the station's South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv.