Google continues satellite spending spree with $500m purchase

Google looks set to continue the growth of its satellite empire with the acquisition of Skybox Imaging, in a deal thought to be worth $500 million (£300 million).

Skybox provides sub-meter resolution images, 90 second videos and can analyse changes to areas over a period of time. So far, the technology has been used to help identify pest infestation in crops, analyse supply chains by tracking ships and update commodity traders on oil storage.

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The satellite imaging firm had previously raised $91 million from investors such as Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners, Asset Management Ventures, CrunchFund and others.

A Google press release said, "Their satellites will help keep our maps accurate with up-to-date imagery. Over time, we also hope that Skybox's team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief — areas Google has long been interested in."

The possibility of providing Internet access to areas with less developed communications is particularly interesting given other recent developments in this area. Satellites, drones or even Internet-connected balloons are currently being investigated with the hope of improving Internet access globally.

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Back in April this year, Google beat Facebook to the acquisition of Titan Aerospace, a company that makes near-orbital drones capable of providing communications and Earth imaging.

While both Google and Facebook will have their own vested interests for these recent developments, making the Internet more accessible could prove hugely beneficial for deprived parts of the world.

Google said that its acquisition of Skybox Imaging is still subject to adjustments and US regulatory approval.