Deal Could Give Internet Giant Easy Access To Satellite Launch Capability
Google is reportedly talking with Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic about purchasing a share of the space tourism company ... a move which observers say could give the Internet behemoth a way to easily and quickly launch satellites.
The goal would be to extend high-speed Internet access to underserved areas through a constellation of low-Earth-orbit satellites.
Sky News reports that the talks, described as being in an "advanced stage", have been going on for some time, and insiders say there are two main elements to the deal. Google would give Virgin Galactic an infusion of cash amounting to millions of dollars for a joint venture that would use technology developed for SpaceShipTwo. The second part of the deal would be an additional $30 million for a "small stake" in the Virgin Galactic holding company.
The news broke one day after it was announced that Google was buying the startup satellite venture Skybox Imaging for $500 million.
Google's plans for extending high-speed Internet access through things the fly are multi-faceted. The Google Loon project would accomplish the feat through a constellation of high-altitude balloons, and the company recently bought Titan Aerospace, which developed a high-altitude solar-powered UAV that can potentially stay aloft for years without out landing.