SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Google is buying Skybox Imaging in a deal that could serve as a launching pad for the Internet company to send its own fleet of satellites to take aerial pictures and provide online access to remote areas of the world.
The $500 million acquisition announced Tuesday initially will provide Google with the means to improve the quality and immediacy of the satellite imagery used in its digital maps.
Google Inc. plans to use Skybox's satellite already in orbit to supplement the material that it licenses from more than 1,000 sources, including other satellite companies.
Eventually, though, Google hopes to build more satellites that could be used to beam Internet access to points around the world.
Skybox is a 5-year-old startup located a mile-and-half from Google's Mountain View, California, headquarters.