Google may invest in SpaceX for Internet through satellites

Google may invest around US$1 billion in the project

Google may invest about US$1 billion in SpaceX, a company that aims to use satellites to deliver low-cost Internet to underserved regions of the earth, according to reports.

SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches rockets and spacecraft. It bagged a $1.6 billion contract from NASA to fly cargo resupply missions, and eventually manned missions, to the International Space Station.

Its founder and CEO Elon Musk indicated in November in a Twitter message that his company is working on large formations of micro-satellites that will be used to provide Internet access. He had promised an announcement in two to three months.

The investment in SpaceX would value the company at over $10 billion, reported the Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the matter. Tech news blog The Information first reported on a proposed investment by Google in SpaceX, citing people familiar with the talks.

For Google the investment in SpaceX would be in line with its plans to extend Internet access to various parts of the world using technologies like balloons to provide Internet services. By moving with the wind, Google's Project Loon balloons, traveling at about 20 kilometers above the earth's surface in the stratosphere, can be arranged to form one large communications network, according to the company.

Google also acquired in April last year Titan Aerospace in New Mexico, a developer of solar-powered drones and other technologies. It now appears to be focusing on atmospheric satellites and other technology for providing Internet connections in remote areas or helping monitor environmental damage like oil spills and deforestation, according to its website.

The purpose of Google's deal with SpaceX is to support the development of satellites that could beam low-cost Internet around the globe, according to The Information.

Google could not be immediately reached for comment.

Musk has discussed using optical-laser technology in his satellites, reported the Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the matter. But lasers may not be a reliable way to deliver Internet service to Earth, as they don't easily pass through clouds, unlike radio waves. "The company isn't believed to control rights to radio spectrum," the Journal reported.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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