Google's ambitious plan of providing global Internet access could be getting more help with news of a potential investment in Elon Musk's SpaceX company.
The investment is reported to be around $1 billion from Google, which would bring SpaceX's value to over $10 billion. With the investment, Google hopes to support SpaceX's satellite development, which would put multiple satellites in orbit 750 miles above the Earth. These satellites would provide faster Internet service by having data sent to a satellite and then having it bounce through other SpaceX satellites until it reaches the satellite closest to the destination. Then, the data is beamed down.
This is SpaceX's first step into the global Internet scene, but for Google, the investment is just another cog in its ongoing plan of providing Internet access around the world. Google started the project in June 2013 with the announcement of Project Loon, which uses balloons, wind and solar power to bring Internet access to remote areas of the globe.
Last December, most of the balloons were gathered for data analysis as well as to upgrade certain functions. Some of the balloons achieved monumental milestones such as traveling at fast speeds due to wind, reaching unexpected heights, and surviving extreme temperatures.
Even with Project Loon, Google was also looking at alternatives, and in April 2014 the company bought Titan Aerospace for an undisclosed amount. Titan Aerospace specializes in making solar-powered drones, which could help not only in deployment of the balloons from Project Loon, but also in providing additional Internet coverage. Two months later, Google was in negotiations with Virgin Galactic (opens in new tab) regarding an investment for the technology in its space tourism business as well as $30 million for a small stake in Virgin Galactic.
With Musk's announcement of the satellite program only a few days ago, it's still unclear as to how it will fit with Google's overall plan. Project Loon and the purchase of Titan Aerospace have the potential to work together in the upper atmosphere, while the investments in both Virgin Galactic and SpaceX show that Google is looking at space as another means to distribute Internet service. Aerial coverage seems to be the way to go for Google, but it might be a while until we see the full effect of its many projects.