Google buys Skybox HD satellite firm for $500m

Google has agreed to buy satellite firm Skybox Imaging for $500 million in cash, as the search giant looks to reap the benefits of HD satellites.

The company initially plans to use Skybox satellites to keep its Maps software up-to-date but more projects are reportedly in the pipeline.

Skybox claims its HD satellites can help with everything from determining crop health and estimated yield to monitoring refugee movements during a humanitarian crisis.

Commercial applications also include the ability to provide up-to-date imagery for excavation planning and insurance purposes.

"We've built and launched the world's smallest high­-resolution imaging satellite, which collects beautiful and useful images and video every day," Skybox noted in a blog post.

"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."

Skybox launched its first satellite, the SkySat-1, in November 2013. It has two satellite launches pencilled in during 2014 and plans on having a fleet of 24 satellites.

At the start of June, it was revealed Google plans to invest $1 billion in satellites to help bring internet access to people in remote areas.

It also plans to launch 180 small, high-capacity satellites, sources told the WSJ. These will orbit the earth at lower altitudes than traditional satellites.

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.