It's Early Days in 2015 But SpaceX is Starting at Light Speed with a Satellite Constellation and Possible Google Investment [Updated]

©Cliff O.

Elon Musk discussing Seattle office opening.

2014 was a busy year for SpaceX. They managed to launch six rockets, less than hoped, but six nonetheless, all successful. 2015 though is starting with a bang and at light speed. So far they have one rocket launched completed, one drone ship landing miss and another attempt set for February 8th when SpaceX is scheduled to launch NOAA's DSCOVR satellite.

Now comes the announcement last week of a new office in Seattle which will focus on building a massive constellation of smallsats to bring Internet everywhere it doesn't all ready reach. And now the icing on the cake, a rumour that Google will invest big in SpaceX to help fund the yet as named satellite constellation, a project very much it's been itching to do.

This past week Elon Musk went to Seattle to announce the new SpaceX office. A transcript of his speech is available here or you can watch the video below.

Musk opened his speech saying this on the new Seattle office.

"What this represents is the official opening of SpaceX Seattle. It is intended to be a significant engineering campus. It's going to be the focus of SpaceX's satellite development activities. In LA we have the rocket development and our Dragon spacecraft, but this is going to be the center of our satellite development activities. What we want to do for satellites is revolutionize the satellite side of things just as we've done with the rocket side of things. I should also say, it's possible for you to do both. So, if you end up working at SpaceX Seattle, you can also work on rockets and manned spacecraft as well as satellites. It's not exclusively one or the other, but in terms of the center of gravity, for satellites will be here in Seattle. The reason for it is pretty straight forward. There's a huge amount of talent in the Seattle area and all you guys don't seem to want to move to LA. That has its merits, by the way. So instead, we're going to establish a significant operation here."

Then today the rumours began to gather momentum that Google was planning a major investment in SpaceX. A sum that would presumably value the company at over $10 billion. The Information, a technology website, reported the news earlier today saying "The purpose of a deal, which is still in the works, is to support the development of SpaceX satellites that could beam low-cost Internet around the globe to billions who don't have it."

Whether this latest rumour is true is something to be determined, and let's be clear, there appears to be only one source at this time.

However Google has wanted to build a project like this for some time. How serious were they? So much so that they hired Greg Wyler last year of WorldVu before he left the company. And Wyler is back in the picture after getting funded last week by Richard Branson and Qualcomm.

Wyler, an old buddy of Elon Musk, had been in discussions with Musk to work together on the project. But they had a fundamental difference in architecture plans and went their separate ways. Now they are set to compete against each other with Google on Musk's side and Virgin Galactic and Branson on the other side. Will two constellations be built? Financially it doesn't make sense to build two, but then again we did have Sirius and XM Radio competing before they merged.

UPDATE: Tuesday, January 20 - SpaceX Press Release

"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."

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