Internet search giant Google is said to be in advanced talks to purchase a stake in the developing space tourism company Virgin Galactic.
According to Sky News, the deal has been in the works for the last number of months and will represent a two-pronged approach by Google and the space venture to mutually benefit both their intentions to expand their space projects.
It is understood the direct investment Google will be making in Virgin Galactic will be relatively small, at about US$30m (€22m), which will also see the two companies collaborate on sharing their developed technologies.
Quoting a Google source, Sky News reported the stake could put Sir Richard’ Branson’s Virgin Galactic at a valuation of €1.5bn, equating to a 1.5pc shares holding.
Google has been increasing its reach outside of the Earth after it struck a US$500m deal to purchase Skybox, a small-scale satellite developer that has developed satellites that are relatively cheap yet can produce high-quality imaging of the Earth’s surface.
This is part of Google’s continuing project to bring broadband internet to the world through its high-altitude balloons and series of orbiting satellites.
The company also recently invested US$280m in the purchase of Titan Aerospace to access its solar-powered drones, which could also be used as a method of delivering broadband.
Both Google and Virgin spokespeople have said they were not willing to comment on the deal.