Is Google’s SkyBox buy part of its $1bn satellite investment plan?


by CBR Staff Writer| 11 June 2014

The company says the satellite imagery startup will support Google Maps.

Google is buying satellite imagery startup SkyBox for $500m shortly after it bought New Mexico-based Titan Aerospace in April.

The latest purchase is expected to give a boost to the company's efforts to take internet to remote parts of the world. Titan Aerospace, which manufactures solar-powered aerial vehicles, too, was bought for this purpose.

The company, however, cited Google Maps as the primary and immediate reason for the SkyBox deal.

"Skybox's satellites will help keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery. Over time, we also hope that Skybox's team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief -- areas Google has long been interested in," the search engine company said in a blogpost.

Google is planning to launch about 180 low orbiting satellites by investing $1bn improve internet access in remote areas across the globe, Bloomberg reported last week.

Skybox, which, like Google, is headquartered in Mountain View, California, plans to develop 24 satellites to capture "sub-meter imagery and full-motion video".

Skybox said in a blogpost, "Skybox and Google share more than just a zip code. We both believe in making information (especially accurate geospatial information) accessible and useful. And to do this, we're both willing to tackle problems head on -- whether it's building cars that drive themselves or designing our own satellites from scratch."

According to its website, Skybox's ambitious goal is to provide imagery of any spot on earth multiple times per day.

The first of the company's 24 satellites, SkySat-1 captured its first high-resolution, high-definition video of Earth in December 2013. The video that provided views of Tokyo, Bangkok, Baltimore, Las Vegas, and Aleppo, Syria, is the first taken by a commercial satellite.

SkySat-2, the second satellite, is scheduled to be launched this year.

Photo courtesy of SkyBox Imaging.

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