According to Sky News Google is exploring the option of buying into Virgin Galactic. According to the report: “Google is in talks with Virgin Galactic about a deal that will hand it crucial access to satellite-launch technology and an equity stake in Sir Richard Branson’s $2bn (£1.2bn) space tourism venture.”1 This revelation comes just days after we learned that Google plans to send upwards of 180 satellites into low-earth orbit. The Sky News report went on to argue that Google’s satellite plans are directly linked to the company’s exploration of investing into Virgin Galactic: “Sky News can exclusively reveal that the discussions with Virgin Galactic are part of Google’s ambitious project to put hundreds of satellites in low-Earth orbit in an attempt to extend internet access to billions of people.”2
Though Google’s investment is far from finalized, Sky News is reporting that the negotiations are all but completed and are in an advanced stage. Further, the article also notes that the negotiations will likely result in a two-stage plan:
The first will see Google inject hundreds of millions of dollars into a joint venture, with Virgin Galactic folding in the technology it has developed as part of its efforts to build the world’s first space tourism business.
The second component will involve Google spending roughly $30m (£17.8m) in return for a small stake in the Virgin Galactic holding company.3
Virgin Galactic insists that its space tourism flights should begin sometime this year. The company has successfully tested its SpaceShipTwo three times thus far. Here is a clip from the most recent test: