SpaceX, the independents space exploration programme backed by billionaire Elon Musk, has won a $1bn (£660m) investment from Google and Fidelity Investments to boost innovation in space transport and satellite manufacturing.
The cash injection represents nearly 10% ownership in the spaceship manufacturer, valuing it close to $10bn (£6.6bn).
SpaceX, which stands for Space Exploration Technologies, hit the headlines earlier this month when its Falcon 9 rocket launched supplies to the International Space Station but its efforts to land the booster on a barge, in a bid to reuse it, failed.
The company has huge ambitions, with its founder Elon Musk aiming to fly people to Mars within the next 12 years.
Google’s investment is more about growing revenue closer to home, with the owner of the largest internet search engine and digital ad network buying out satellite firm Skybox Imaging last year.
Google, like Musk, has embraced the idea of using satellites to provide internet access to remote parts of the Earth, although Google’s project had previously relied on the use of high-altitude balloons.
Its corporate development head Donald Harrison is to join SpaceX’s board of directors as part of its investment.
Google said: “Space-based applications, like imaging satellites, can help people more easily access important information, so we’re excited to support SpaceX’s growth as it develops new launch technologies.”
Musk, who is also the chief executive of US electric carmaker Telsa Motors, has spoken about using satellites to provide internet access around the globe.
SpaceX was founded by him in 2002 and he has also been vocal about his ultimate goal of colonising Mars.
Google, meanwhile, has been increasing its presence in the aerospace sector. In June, it bought satellite company Skybox Imaging for $500m.
Google and Fidelity join existing investors Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Valor Equity Partners and Capricorn, SpaceX said.