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Monday 22 September 2014

Google acquires satellite company in $500m deal

Alexei Oreskovic

Published 12/06/2014 | 02:30

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Google is acquiring satellite company Skybox Imaging for $500m (€370m) in cash, the internet company's second high-profile acquisition of an aerospace company this year.

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The search engine said that Skybox's satellites will provide images for Google's online mapping service. Google, the world's No 1 internet search engine, said that Skybox's technology could also eventually be used to provide internet access and help with disaster relief.

The acquisition of the five-year-old company comes as Google and rival Facebook are racing to snap up satellite and drone companies in an expensive effort to expand the reach of their businesses.

In April Google acquired Titan Aerospace, a New Mexico-based maker of solar-powered drones, for an undisclosed sum. Google has also launched a small network of balloons designed to deliver internet access over the Southern Hemisphere.

Facebook announced in March that it had created a special "Connectivity lab" project tasked with developing satellites, drones and other technology that could be used to beam internet connectivity to people in underdeveloped regions.

Skybox has built satellites packed with sensors and camera electronics that take high-resolution images and video of the Earth but which it says are smaller and lighter than traditional satellites. The company, which like Google is based in Mountain View, California, has launched one satellite and had planned to launch a constellation of 24 satellites, according to the company's website.

"The time is right to join a company who can challenge us to think even bigger," Skybox said in a message announcing the deal with Google.

Google said the deal's closing is subject to regulatory approvals in the United States. (Reuters)

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