Google has acquired satellite imaging startup Skybox Imaging for $500 million in cash.
"Skybox’s satellites will help keep Google Maps accurate with up-to-date imagery," a spokesman for the search giant said. "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."
Based in Mountain View, California, Skybox specializes in building cheaper, smaller satellites with off-the-shelf electronics for less than $50 million apiece. The company launched its first satellite, SkySat-1, in November, and plans to build out a constellation of 24 mini-satellites--each roughly the size of a mini-fridge--to orbit Earth and beam back images in close to real time.
"Skybox and Google share more than just a zip code," the satellite company said in a blog post. "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."