Google is reportedly planning to invest a significant sum of money in Elon Musk's private space-going enterprise SpaceX as part of its long-running plan to offer satellite internet access to disconnected areas of the world.
While Google has dabbled with running its own satellite in the past, participating in the US National Geospatial Intelligence Agency's NextView programme back in 2008
to obtain exclusive commercial usage rights, it has largely concentrated on satellite imaging concerns to bolster its mapping services. In June last year, details leaked of plans to launch 180 micro-satellites in low-Earth orbit
in order to provide satellite internet connectivity to those currently disconnected, an extension of the company's Project Loon balloon-based wireless internet project.
Now, The Information
claims to have spoken to 'several people
' familiar with the advertising giant's plans and has received confirmation that Google's satellite plans are taking shape - beginning with a 'major investment
' in private space concern SpaceX. Details of the investment have not been provided, with a separate source speaking to the Wall Street Journal
suggesting it could be as high as a $1 billion investment on a $10 billion valuation - giving Google a ten per cent share in the company.
Google's investment, the site's sources claim, would be used to equip satellites with two-way communication capabilities in order to blanket currently under-served areas of the world with internet connectivity. That fits with a statement made by a Google spokesperson to press last year, in which the company pointed out that 'internet connectivity significantly improves people's lives, yet two-thirds of the world have no access at all.
Neither Google nor SpaceX have commented on the claims.