Elon Musk of Space X (Space Exploration Technologies) netted US$1 billion (NZ$1.33 billion) in new funding from Google and Fidelity, pushing further his exploratory projects, including the dream of going to Mars, and returning rockets safely back from space to earth at pre-determined sites, not in the sea.
The Google investment is seen by tech analysts as an extension of Google’s ambitions to stay ahead of the internet rat race, as well as extending its aerospace ambitions.
Last June, Google bought satellite company Skybox Imaging for US$500 million in what was seen as a move to keep Google Maps fed with high quality, up-to-date satellite imageries. “Over time, we also hope that Skybox’s team and technology will be able to help improve internet access and disaster relief,” the company was reported saying.
Google’s fascination with space is not new, bosses Larry Page and Eric Schmidt – together with Avatar film maker James Cameron, and American business tycoon Ross Perot – have in 2012 financially backed Washington-based Planetary Resources’ plan to create low-cost robotic spacecraft for use in space survey missions, with a view to extract precious metals outside earth.
And through Project Loon, Google’s blue sky research division Google X has been working on forming a communication network to enable people to connect to the internet using phones and other devices, through solar-powered balloons with in-built communication systems. Geraldine in Christchurch, New Zealand, had been used as a test bed, Wired reported.
This week’s media attention was capped off by Schmidt’s latest ‘oracle’ out of the Davos World Economic Forum, where he hinted the Google is faced with competition from smaller companies, rising overnight and within a short space of time, getting a slice of the internet pie.
Speaking at a forum with other tech biggies -- Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella – Schmidt was reported by Business Inside saying: "On the question of dominance, you now see so many strong tech platforms coming through and you’re seeing a reordering, and a future reordering, of the leaders because of the rise of the app on the smartphone. … all bets are off. We have a whole new set of players,” he told the forum.