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Google takes equity stake in SpaceX

Irene Klotz, Spaceflight Correspondent
Jan 23, 2015, 1:34 UTC

Sen—Privately owned Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will get a $1 billion infusion from Google and Fidelity, which together will own just under 10 per cent of the rapidly growing, California-based company.

The $1 billion investment, announced Tuesday, adds Google and Fidelity to a small group of backers who helped technology entrepreneur Elon Musk build SpaceX from startup to 4,000 employees in 12 years.

SpaceX said it will use the funding “to support continued innovation in the areas of space transport, reusability and satellite manufacturing.”

The company already flies cargo to the International Space Station for NASA and has a second NASA contract to fly astronauts as well. It also offers cut-rate satellite launching services for commercial customers and expects soon to begin competing to launch U.S. military and high-value NASA science satellites as well.

SpaceX intends to shift the marketplace further but reusing its rockets, which if successful could reduce the cost of launching by an order of magnitude or more.

Last week, Musk also unveiled plans to get into the satellite manufacturing business, with the aim of building and launching a 4,000-member fleet of small spacecraft that would provide internet and communications services worldwide.

In addition to its rocket manufacturing and engineering center in Hawthorne, Calif., SpaceX has a rocket-testing facility in Texas, two launch sites in Florida and a launch site in California. It is building a fourth launch site in Texas and plans to build a factory in Seattle to design and manufacture satellites.

Previous SpaceX investors are Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Valor Equity Partners and Capricorn. Combined with Google and Fidelity’s $1 billion investment, SpaceX is now valued at more than $10 billion.