Google is reportedly in talks to partner up with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, the Internet giant planning to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into a joint venture.
What is this new adventure that Google is planning to go on, you wonder? Well, Sky News reports that it has a direct connection to the company’s plans to put hundreds of satellites in low-Earth orbit.
A few weeks back, reports indicated that Google was putting a spin on its desire to bring Internet to remote locations around the world where traditional networks cannot reach. These plans had Google spread hundreds of satellites around the world, creating a network that would help it in this endeavor.
The fact that the company also acquired Skybox Imaging the other day can only fuel the rumor that Google is truly working on this idea.
Sky News reports that Google has been negotiating with Branson’s Virgin Galactic for months and that the discussions are already in an advanced stage.
Insiders indicate that the deal will have two main elements. On one hand, Google will inject hundreds of millions of dollars into a joint venture with Virgin Galactic, with the latter folding in the technology it has developed as part of the efforts to build the first space tourism business.
On the other hand, the Internet giant will invest some $30 million in return for a small stake in Branson’s company.
Since the deal is still being negotiated, chances are that the terms will suffer some alteration, although it’s unclear just when the collaboration will be made official.
Virgin Galactic has been working hard to respect its plans to make its first flights available later this year, especially since this isn’t the only company looking to enter the space tourism business.
The deal between the two companies makes sense, even though it does come a bit as a surprise. As mentioned, Google has been working for years on plans to bring more people online, to provide an Internet connection to billions of people that are currently offline.
Project Loon is a clear example of how serious Google is about these plans. The project includes balloons that can provide Internet access to people below and which are directed around the globe with the help of air currents. Considering just how difficult it is to predict and develop an algorithm that will effectively take the balloons where they need to get, it’s clear that Google isn’t joking around.
Expanding these plans to satellites is a natural step.