According to reports, tech giant Google is close to making a major investment in rocket maker SpaceX to beef up efforts to deliver low-cost Internet access to countries that lack ground Internet infrastructure.
Google is close to investing about $1bn (£660m, €863m) in the Elon Musk owned SpaceX that is engaged in space exploration and related businesses. The investment deal would value the SpaceX in excess of $10 billion. Such a partnership would support the creation of a satellite based internet system so that more and more people can get connected to the internet.
Most tech companies are trying various methods to provide reliable Internet access to many rural and far-flung areas especially in developing countries, while also possibly acquiring a lucrative new user base, without investing in expensive ground-based infrastructure. Facebook said that it was exploring drones, satellites, and lasers to deliver Internet to everyone. Google was reportedly planning to invest more than $1 billion to deploy hundreds of low-Earth orbit satellites.
Titan's 20 member team is reportedly working with Google's Project Loon, an initiative born out of Google's in-house facility Google X to provide Internet through air balloon. Launched in 2013, the solar-powered high-flying balloons controlled via remote can navigate stratospheric winds 12 miles above the surface of the Earth. Similar to the way satellite Internet works, the balloons can communicate with special antennas and receiver stations on the ground.
Google's plans apparently coincides the ambitions of Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of SpaceX, which specializes in delivering supplies to astronauts at the International Space Station and deploying commercial satellites.
Musk said in November that SpaceX was working toward building and deploying a fleet of up to 700 advanced satellites, weighing less than 250 pounds each --that would deliver low-cost Internet access around the world.
SpaceX's new network would create a constellation of 4,000 small satellites orbiting about 750 miles above earth. The project would most likely take at least five years to develop and cost nearly $10 billion, Musk said.
"We see it as a long-term revenue source for SpaceX to be able to fund a city on Mars," Musk said last week. He didn't provide specifics on how he'll make profit off the project, but he did mention the possibility of selling satellites after the network is completed.
According to the SpaceX website, Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the eventual goal of allowing people to live on other planets. Last year, it won a $2.6 billion contract from NASA becoming one of the first private companies, the other being Boeing -- set to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station, beginning as early as 2017.