After two days of speculation based on media reports, SpaceX has confirmed that Google is making a major investment in the company, releasing the following statement on its website:
“Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has raised a billion dollars in a financing round with two new investors, Google and Fidelity. They join existing investors Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Valor Equity Partners and Capricorn. Google and Fidelity will collectively own just under 10% of the company.
SpaceX designs, manufactures, and launches the world’s most advanced rockets and spacecraft. This funding will be used to support continued innovation in the areas of space transport, reusability, and satellite manufacturing.”
Unsurprisingly, the SpaceX release does not directly address the $10 billion valuation mentioned in most press reports.
Today’s announcement comes on the heels of Elon Musk’s Friday night appearance in Seattle to open a new office and officially begin a foray into the satellite manufacturing business, and it is easy to draw a connection between the two events. SpaceX however, entering the demanding three year stretch of hardware development for NASA’s Commercial Crew program at the same time it is racing to introduce the Falcon Heavy booster to meet a growing manifest, would almost certainly have sought a new round of financing in any event.
Still, the relationship with Google is an interesting one, which will no doubt be raising eyebrows in several related industries. Google has been seeking an entry into the Internet service segment, having looked at both initiating its own satellite based system, as well as Project Loon, a pilot project testing Internet provision via high altitude balloons. Given the new relationship with SpaceX and its ambitions for a massive constellation of up to 4000 satellites proving global connectivity, the era of aerial Internet may have just been shot down.