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Google to buy satellite company Skybox Imaging

Google is to buy Skybox Imaging, a California-based satellite company. Google’s online maps will benefit the most from the purchase, which could also facilitate Internet access in remote locations.

The world's top search engine announced on Tuesday plans to purchase Skybox Imaging, a five-year-old satellite company situated right up the road from the Internet giant. The deal was reportedly worth $500 million (369 million euros).

"We've agreed to acquire Skybox Imaging, and we look forward to welcoming them to Google," a statement from the Internet giant said.

"Their satellites will help keep our maps accurate with up-to-date imagery. Over time, we also hope that Skybox's team and technology will be able to help improve Internet access and disaster relief - areas Google has long been interested in," it added.

Skybox, for its part, expressed its enthusiasm over the scheduled acquisition on its website on Tuesday.

"Skybox and Google…believe in making information (especially accurate geospatial information) accessible and useful," the satellite company said, adding that it looked forward to the partnership which might include building more satellites.

"The time is right to join a company who can challenge us to think even bigger and bolder, and who can support us in accelerating our ambitious vision," it added.

Google in orbit

Skybox's satellite already in orbit will reportedly supplement Google's images of the earth distributed through its popular map function "Google Maps." The Internet giant currently relies on other companies, including DigitalGlobe and Astrium, for its geospatial information.

In the future, Google might also use satellites to provide better Internet access across the globe.

The deal, whose date has not yet been released, is pending approval from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Federal Communications Commission.

The announcement on Tuesday comes less than two months of

Google bought drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace

. The Internet giant is also in the process of developing Project Loon, which aims to transmit the Internet to remote locations via large, high-altitude balloons.

kms/se (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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