Google's Billion Dollar Bet on SpaceX and a Space-Based Internet

Elon Musk wants to expand the Internet into space and Google could be the ideal partner to join him.

ByAlyssa Newcomb
January 20, 2015, 5:09 PM
PHOTO: Google could join with Elon Musk's SpaceX to provide Internet in space.
Google could join with Elon Musk's SpaceX to provide Internet in space.
Paul Sancya/AP Photo, David Ramos/Bloomberg via Getty Images

— -- The great Internet space race is shaping up to be a wild ride.

SpaceX confirmed today it raised $1 billion in financing from Google and Fidelity, which will help the company push ahead with its plan to create a space-based global Internet service.

"Space-based applications, like imaging satellites, can help people more easily access important information, so we’re excited to support SpaceX’s growth as it develops new launch technologies," a Google spokesperson told ABC News in a statement.

Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, last week he wants to launch a constellation of satellites to create a global Internet service that could connect people who don't have access and would handle long-distance traffic.

"It's like rebuilding the Internet in space," Musk told an audience in Seattle, where his company is opening a satellite production plant.

Partnering with Musk's SpaceX to create a constellation of satellites in low-Earth orbit seems like a fit for Google, which has long had its sights on global connectivity. Through its Project Loon, the company has been testing large Internet-equipped balloons that float through the stratosphere.

Google took its interest a step further in April of last year when the company acquired drone company Titan Aerospace. Acknowledging it was "still early days," Google said in a statement that "atmospheric satellites could help bring internet access to millions of people, and help solve other problems."

Musk's plan differs from Project Loon and other attempts by creating smaller satellites that can be launched into low-Earth orbit. While it wouldn't necessarily -- or immediately -- replace all hard-wired communications, Musk explained why his plan was ideal for long-distance communications.

Communicating across long distances is faster if the information is routed through a vacuum instead of a fiber, allowing "inherently better ... long distance traffic through space," he said.

Musk's announcement came the same week Virgin Galactic and Qualcomm teamed up with satellite company OneWeb to announce plans for a similar satellite system to foster high speed worldwide connectivity.

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