Google and Fidelity Investments have invested $1 billion in Elon Musk’s space venture SpaceX, giving the two companies a combined stake of nearly 10%.
The cash infusion will help SpaceX on its mission of developing new methods of connecting people to the Internet.
“This funding will be used to support continued innovation in the areas of space transport, resusability, and satellite manufacturing,” SpaceX said.
“Space-based applications, like imaging satellites, can help people more easily access important information, so we’re excited to support SpaceX’s growth as it develops new launch technologies,” Google said in a statement.
Google’s collaboration with SpaceX is going to give it an edge over its rivals such as Facebook, which is also working on delivering Internet service to underserved regions, via satellites, drones and lasers.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Qualcomm also recently announced that they would be investing in OneWeb, a space internet project similar to Musk’s led by Greg Wyler.
There is a big difference between what’s being called “space internet” and the idea of having internet in space. Space internet refers to using a satellite-based internet service for use on the Earth’s surface.
Musk claims that space internet can be faster than terrestrial internet and he may be right. However, there may be some latency as the satellites would be so distant from the planet.
Recently Musk told Bloomberg Businessweek:
”The speed of light is 40 percent faster in the vacuum of space than it is for fiber. The long-term potential is to be the primary means of long-distance Internet traffic and to serve people in sparsely populated areas.”
OneWeb is believed to have the most experience in the space internet business, it also owns the spectrum necessary to operate a network in orbit.
Richard Branson reckons that this is the most important factor.
“I don’t think Elon can do a competing thing,” Branson says. “Greg has the rights, and there isn’t space for another network—like there physically is not enough space. If Elon wants to get into this area, the logical thing for him would be to tie up with us, and if I were a betting man, I would say the chances of us working together rather than separately would be much higher.”