Google and Fidelity, an international investment firm, will invest $1 billion in Space X in an effort to extend the reach of Google's Internet services and mapping imagery literally into outer space.

The Internet giant has publicly expressed concern over the fact that it currently pays third-party satellite companies for "uneven" image quality which it uses for Google Earth.

"Google may also be interested in developing satellites with other kinds of sensors, like infrared detectors that show the health of crops, or lasers that can pierce forest canopies to show underlying terrain."

Satellite Internet is another near-term goal of Google's investment. Elon Musk, founder of Space X (and Tesla Motors and Paypal), says he is ready to enter the growing market of airborne Internet broadcasting.  

Because floating communication networks could deliver Internet services at a faster and cheaper rate, Facebook is investing in drones capable of creating roving online networks—without expensive infrastructure investment.

Virgin Group, in a strategy more similar to Space X, wants to broadcast the Internet from satellites launched from rockets. But Musk has said he is more interested in competing with Virgin than partnering with the company. 

"The Space Internet venture...would be hugely ambitious. Hundreds of satellites would orbit about 750 miles above earth, much closer than traditional communications satellites in geosynchronous orbit at altitudes of up to 22,000 miles. The lower satellites would make for a speedier Internet service, with less distance for electromagnetic signals to travel."

Ultimately, the cash infusion from Google and Fidelity will help Musk continue researching his ultimate goal: creating a livable city on Mars complete with a fast Internet connection. 

In his Big Think interview, Musk discusses the challenges he faced while founding Space X, the first private company to innovate the rocketry industry top to bottom:

Read more at the New York Times

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