There have been rumblings recently that, adding to its other (perhaps more far-flung) efforts to improve Internet access around the world, Google would eventually deploy its own fleet of satellites. Today, those rumblings got a little bit closer to reality as Google announced its agreement to acquire satellite imaging company Skybox for $500 million in cash.

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Skybox's journey so far, according to the announcement on its own blog, has been about revolutionizing "access to information about the changes happening across the surface of the Earth." Having already deployed the world's smallest high-resolution imaging satellite, the company says it's already made "great strides."

The announcement goes on to explain that Skybox and Google ultimately share the same goal - "making information accessible and useful." The technology and know-how behind Skybox's efforts will - according to Google's announcement - help Google improve Internet access around the world, and also help in disaster relief, "areas Google has long been interested in."

Readers may remember from the WSJ report that Google recently hired the founder of O3b Networks, Greg Wyler, to help lay the groundwork for exploration into bringing the "other 3 billion" online.

In the short term, Skybox says it will continue to operate as usual, since the deal is still subject to closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Source: Skybox, Google