Google may invest in SpaceX project to beam Internet from satellites

Google is close to investing money in SpaceX to develop satellites that would beam the Internet to billions of people down on Earth, according to a new report.

According to The Information, Google has the rocket company valued at more than $10 billion, which could lead to a massive influx of cash for the new project. 

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SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, has become a major name in the private-sector dash to make inroads in outer space, and a Google investment would shake up the industry landscape.

“Our focus is on creating a global communications system that would be larger than anything that has been talked about to date,” Musk told Bloomberg Businessweek last week, seeming to describe the satellite project that has attracted Google’s attention. 

According to Businessweek, the plan would involve hundreds of satellites orbiting about 750 miles above the Earth — much lower than traditional communications satellites, which orbit up to 22,000 miles into space. The satellites would be an alternative to fiber optic cables, which are currently used to connect much of the world to the Web.

The SpaceX plan is aimed at bringing the Internet to poor and remote parts of the planet. It will take at least five years to get the service up and running, Musk said, though it could one day form the foundation of a communications link that stretches all the way to Mars.

Musk is not the only one with a plan to beam the Internet from the sky to communities below.

Earlier this month, entrepreneur Greg Wyler’s OneWeb company secured funding from Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Qualcomm for a similar network of hundreds of satellites transmitting the Internet to people on the ground.

Google is reportedly considering spending more than $1 billion on a fleet of satellites. Its separate Project Loon aimed to use a system of balloons to bring the Internet around the word.

Facebook’s Connectivity Lab is also exploring ways to use drones, satellites and lasers to transmit the Internet.