To the stars

SpaceX raises $1 billion from Google, Fidelity

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SpaceX has raised a $1 billion financing round from Google and Fidelity, which now own just under 10 percent of the ambitious space startup.

The investment comes days after SpaceX CEO Elon Musk announced plans to build a fleet of small satellites that would bring internet to underserved regions of the world. While the satellites cost far less to produce than their larger, traditional cousins currently favored by telecommunications companies, SpaceX will still need hundreds of millions of dollars to produce 700 of them.

My colleague Kevin Fitchard recently outlined how Musk believes these satellites can create a stronger, faster internet network by bouncing data around the globe much more quickly than if it had to travel by cable. He writes:

Though any traffic would have to got through the Earth’s atmosphere twice, once that data stream is 750 miles up, it would make only a few satellite hops across a near vacuum, through which electromagnetic waves travel much faster than through a fiber optic cable. So what Musk is promising to do is not only build an internet to connect the furthest corners of the planet, but a create a network that would draw those far corners much closer together.

SpaceX had previously raised $245.5 million from investors like Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Valor Equity Partners and Capricorn. Each rocket or spacecraft costs hundreds of millions of dollars to develop and millions to launch, so it’s not surprising that SpaceX is interested in such huge rounds. The startup has lofty ambitions even beyond its satellite fleet, such as sending humans to Mars, which will require a huge investment in research and development over the coming decade.

Google actually already has its own experimental aerial internet program. It’s called Project Loon, and it relies on balloons. It acquired satellite imaging company Skybox last year.

5 Responses to “SpaceX raises $1 billion from Google, Fidelity”

  1. asharbaig

    The US government keeps talking about community Wi-Fi – getting internet access to everyone, even the most remote users. However, the reality is that only companies like Google has the deep pockets and the business interest to di it. Satellites are a much better option than balloons. Today, less that half of world’s population has internet access. Darrell in his comment below mentioned that only 5% of Cubans are hooked up to the Internet. More than 20 million Americans still use dialup internet. It is in Google’s best interest that everyone on this planet is connected to the internet so that we can use Google’s products and services. They have the deep pockets to speed up that connectivity. So I say, why not. Go for it Google!

  2. Omer Dror

    Both your article and Kevin’s article mention 700 satellites. Not sure where you guys are getting that number (maybe mixing up with WorldVu?). SpaceX is aiming for 4025 satellites in their constellation.

  3. Darrell Everett

    Just what we need: 700 more satellites added to the junk already bouncing around up there. LOL! Sounds spiffy to me! They can start with Cuba which only has a 5% Internet hook up: The lowest on Earth!