This website’s reputation for getting it right WAY before anyone else got another boost this week.
As we said before, there is virtually no chance that Google will be investing with SpaceX to build a Low Earth Orbit internet satellite constellation.
Google invested in SpaceX because it IS launching a fleet of cameras on satellites called Skybox imaging, which will be taking high resolution photos of all of our backyards soon and publishing them on Google Earth for all to see. Google might prefer that this was not discussed widely so may be happy to see the press focus on other wacky projects. The mighty Elon Musk actually needed to raise investment, but as a private company, SpaceX does not have to do the full truth-telling-disclosure-thing that a Nasdaq listed company has to.
Well yesterday Musk started to fess up, running as far away from the LEO–internet constellation rumours as his rubbery mouth could take him.
At the International Space Station Research and Development Conference this week Musk admitted that LEO internet constellations have a history of failure and said that SpaceX is not deploying one. In an astonishingly uncharacteristic piece of caution, he went on to say “I think the long-term potential of it is pretty great, but I don’t want to overplay or overstate things.”
In the hyperbolic world of Elon Musk, this, translated to real business-speak means “We have no money, no backing, no plans to do this, it’s a bad idea.”
One should not be surprised. Greg Wyler tried to sell the idea to Google in 2014, and was apparently ejected with some haste – not unlike his experience with other projects he has been associated with – like Molex which sued him for fraud. Google are the smartest guys on the planet and they know that Bill Gates lost hundreds of millions in the 90s on a similar project and that there are too many impossible problems to overcome. Undeterred, Wyler persuaded a few other manufacturers to join him on his roadshow trying to persuade Wall Street investors to pay them to build this White Elephant. We think Wall Street has a memory and it won’t happen. It also seems that Musk’s involvement with the grown ups with the real money at Google has also finally wisened him up.