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Google Acquires Satellite Company Skybox To Ramp Up Google Maps

The search giant also plans to use Skybox's infrastructure to improve Internet access and disaster relief.

An image of Perth, Australia sent back from SkySat-1.

[Image: Skybox]

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."

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