Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), the private rocketry company founded by Elon Musk, has received $1 billion in investments from Google Inc. and Fidelity.
Although both corporations contributed, Google’s investment has analysts wondering about the Internet company’s ambitions for the future. By throwing support toward SpaceX, they could be in a better position to bring satellite Internet to users worldwide.
Developing satellites for the masses? In 2014, Google purchased Skybox Imaging, which produces high-resolution imaging satellites. It’s similar to the technology that is currently used for Google Earth, but those satellites are owned by other companies. Because they have to work with several sources, there can be uneven image quality, something that having their own satellites could correct. In addition, by combining the Skybox Imaging purchase and investment in SpaceX, Google could develop other types of satellites that can bring new information and products to the masses. For example, satellites with infrared detectors could be used to remotely evaluate the health of crops.
No surprise Google is interested. It’s no surprise that the potential of SpaceX has garnered interest from Google. Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have been personally interested in space exploration, and even discussed developing “space elevators” that could launch items more cheaply than rockets in their company’s early days. Now with the investment, Google owns 10 percent of SpaceX (collectively with Fidelity). Don Harrison, Google’s VP for Corporate Development, will join the board of SpaceX.
“Space-based applications like imaging satellites can help people more easily access important information, so we’re really excited to support SpaceX’s growth as it develops new technologies,” said Harrison in a statement.
SpaceX has come close to several innovative breakthroughs, but the first three launches of its small Falcon 1 rocket failed. They were able to successfully launch in September 2008, and continued development on the larger Falcon 9 rocket in contract with NASA. With the Google investment, SpaceX will be able to push through the inaugural launch of Falcon Heavy this year – which is two years behind the original schedule