Google continues to open up their wallet. This time, it’s for Skybox Imaging. The deal, which was announced late yesterday, is worth $500 million and gives Google the ability to improve the quality of Google Maps and send its own satellites to take aerial pictures.

What’s Google’s immediate plan? They will use Skybox’s satellite already in orbit to increase its aerial coverage. Right now, Google licenses material from more than 1,000 sources including other satellite companies such as DigitalGlobe.

A Moonshot?

Could Google’s acquisition be a ‘moonshot?’ CEO Larry Page uses the term to describe projects that are full of ambition and could take years to see the work pay off.

One day, Google wants to build a fleet of satellites to beam Internet access to areas all over the world. This is the latest acquisition to see this future come to fruition.

Google unveiled ‘Project Loon’ about a year ago. This project uses balloons equipped with antennas to bring Internet to remote areas of the world. Or, areas where the proper infrastructure isn’t in place yet.

Having a company that designs its own satellites will make projects such as Loon a bit easier to complete.

Who is Skybox

Skybox has been around for about 5 years and is led by Tom Ingersoll, an aerospace industry veteran. Ingersoll has been a part of the aerospace industry for more than 25 years and worked at leading companies including Universal Space Network and McDonnell Douglas Corporations.

The Skybox staff won’t have to move far. The company’s headquarters is a little over a mile from Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California.

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“Skybox and Google share more than just a zip code. We both believe in making information (especially accurate geospatial information) accessible and useful. And to do this, we’re both willing to tackle problems head on — whether it’s building cars that drive themselves or designing our own satellites from scratch,” Skybox said in a blog post.

The deal isn’t quite final yet. Google has to get regulatory approval from the FCC and NOAA, which could take a few months.

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