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Google Bets Big on Elon Musk's Internet Satellite Plan: $1 Billion

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Google, together with investment company Fidelity, is making an investment worth $1 billion into SpaceX, the space rocket company that was co-founded by billionaire and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk.

The investment deal, which was confirmed by SpaceX, is the latest investment of Google on technologies concerning space exploration. Google has recently also invested in satellites, and was thought to have been considering acquiring a stake in Virgin Galactic, a venture focusing on space tourism.

The $1 billion investment will place the value of SpaceX at about $10 billion, and will grant Google and Fidelity almost 10 percent ownership of the space rocket firm.

While the results and expectations for the investment remain unclear, there have been speculations that the deal will boost the plans of both Google and SpaceX to provide low-cost access to the Internet to still disconnected parts of the world.

Companies are racing against each other to provide cheap and efficient Internet access to underserved areas to tap into a new user base. However, investments in ground-based systems will be very expensive, and so the companies have resorted to other means. Facebook said last March that it is currently studying using satellites, drones and lasers for delivering Internet access, while Google previously said that it has plans to invest over $1 billion in the deployment of hundreds of Internet-granting low-Earth orbit satellites.

Google has also suggested that its investment in SpaceX could improve its satellite imaging service. The company acquired satellite company Skybox last June, which it looked to aid Google's mapping services and to spur projects that could help for disaster relief.

"Space-based applications, like imaging satellites, can help people more easily access important information," said a spokesman for Google. "So we're excited to support SpaceX's growth as it develops new launch technologies."

SpaceX is also looking forward to the partnership with Google, adding that the money earned from the investment will be used "to support continued innovation in the areas of space transport, reusability and satellite manufacturing."

Aside from what Google can acquire from its investment in SpaceX, the company has also shown interest in the development of satellites that feature other kinds of sensors, such as infrared detectors which show the health of planted crops, or lasers that are capable of piercing through the canopies of forests to show and map the terrain hidden underneath.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, have also previously revealed their personal interest in the venture of space exploration. Early on the history of Google, the company offered lectures to employees on the creation of space elevators that can theoretically launch objects from Earth into space at a lower cost compared to using rockets.

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