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Google to Invest North of $10 Billion in SpaceX Internet Satellite Fleet

Google to Invest North of $10 Billion in SpaceX Internet Satellite Fleet

by Alex GoraleJanuary 20, 2015

Google is close to investing in rocket maker SpaceX, according to several people familiar with the talks, creating a formidable alliance in Silicon Valley’s accelerating Internet space race, The Information reports. The purpose of a deal, which is still in the works, is to support the development of SpaceX satellites that could beam low-cost Internet around the globe to billions who don’t have it.

Also read: Elon Musk Details $10 Billion Plan for Space Internet

Musk had first mentioned the satellite project in a tweet in November, saying the announcement would come in two or three months.

SpaceX is still in the early stages of developing advanced micro-satellites operating in large formations. Announcement in 2 to 3 months.

Hundreds of Micro Satellites in Low Earth Orbit for Faster Global Connectivity

Space InternetThe project will include hundreds of micro satellites in low earth orbit (1,200 km) much closer to the Earth than geosynchronous orbit (36,000 km) above Earth used by most telecom satellites, meaning that communications with Earth would be faster. The satellites would provide cheap Internet connectivity to more than 4 billion new users, allowing more than half of the world’s population to get online for the first time.

With a space Internet, packets would be sent to space, travel from satellite to satellite until they reach a satellite nearest the destination on Earth, and then travel down to Earth. By eliminating the lag of ground networks, this type of space network could rival fiber optic Internet speeds.Musk said:

The speed of light is 40 percent faster in the vacuum of space than it is for fiber. The long-term potential is to be the primary means of long-distance Internet traffic and to serve people in sparsely populated areas.

Google has reportedly agreed to value SpaceX north of $10 billion and that the size of the total round, which includes other investors, is very large.

A Google/SpaceX effort would have competition, Seeking Alpha reports: Qualcomm and Richard Branson’s Virgin Group just agreed to invest in OneWeb, a firm that plans to launch 648 broadband-capable low-orbit satellites. OneWeb is led by Greg Wyler, an industry vet who once worked for Google and was later rumored to be talking with Musk.

Visionary and controversial technology entrepreneur Elon Musk, the creator of Tesla and SpaceX, is all over the technology news these days. Despite setbacks like the crash landing of the latest SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, he keeps pushing hard for radical technology innovation, such as the Hyperloop mass transit system. Recently, Musk decided to donate $10M to the Future of Life Institute to run a global research program aimed at aborting the coming Machine Overlords and keeping Artificial Intelligence (AI) beneficial to humanity. A very nice person indeed – but, according to rumors, Musk is not a nice boss to work for.

The short-term goal of the Internet satellite fleet project is to provide fast, low-cost Internet to people who currently have little to no access to online services. However, the ultimate goal is to fund space exploration and connect future planetary colonies to the web.

Images from Shutterstock.

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  • Giulio Prisco

    Update: SpaceX announcement:

    Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has raised a billion dollars in a
    financing round with two new investors, Google and Fidelity. They join
    existing investors Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Valor Equity
    Partners and Capricorn. Google and Fidelity will collectively own just
    under 10% of the company.