Google officially announced that they have acquired start up satellite company Skybox for $500 million. Google purchased Skybox in order to improve the overall accuracy of Google Maps through more satellites. The acquisition also aims to eventually expand internet access more extensively across the world.
Google will now have access to more data that they can add to their already massive stockpile of information. This marks one of many recent acquisitions from not only Google but many companies using space related technology to expand already existing networks and infrastructure.
Project Loon is one such example. Project Loon is a network of high altitude balloons specifically designed to provide internet access to people in remote geographic locations worldwide. Google also purchased drone maker Titan Aerospace back in April this year. At the same time, Facebook acquired Ascenta, a UK based drone manufacturer.
Skybox in particular build and launch satellites to improve remote earth imaging and monitoring. Skybox is particularly interesting in how cheap their satellites are. Space related technology is not cheap. however, Skybox is able to reduce the amount of money spent per satellite launch compared to other similar companies.
For example, Digital Globe spends hundreds of millions of dollars per satellite launch. Skybox has been able to launch satellites for less than $9 million. These satellites have shorter lifespans overall, but the cost really offsets this grievance.Google stated, “We also hope that Skybox’s team and technology will be able to improve Internet access and disaster relief.”
For obvious reasons, expanding a digital network to developing countries is a smart move from a business standpoint. While western markets are crucial right now, developing countries are beginning to catch up and building vast digital networks that reach said countries could expand the number of potential customers and users for any given company.
Skybox was founded only five years ago after a successful venture-capital funding campaign that raised $91 million. Prior to this acquisition, Skybox was planning to launch an additional 23 satellites over the course of the next five years. Their plans will almost definitely change with this purchase.