Project Loon is a research and development project being developed by X (formerly Google X) with the mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas. In this post, you will know 11 things about internet connectivity balloons of Google’s Project Loon.
Here are the 11 things you need to know about internet connectivity balloons of Google’s Project Loon:
- The huge Project Loon balloons are sent up to the stratosphere to bring internet connectivity to remote areas and disaster zones.The balloon carries avionics software, flight sensors, and power systems which determine where its balloons need to go then move each one into a layer of wind blowing in the right direction. By moving with the wind, the balloons can be arranged to form one large communications network.
- Project Loon balloons use super-pressure envelopes, meaning the volume of the balloon remains constant, like a mylar party balloon. This allows the balloons to stay afloat for much longer than a zero-pressure (variable volume) balloon. The inflatable part of the balloon is called a balloon envelope. A well-made balloon envelope is critical for allowing a balloon to last around 100 days in the stratosphere. Loon’s balloon envelopes are made from sheets of polyethylene plastic, and they measure fifteen meters wide by twelve meters tall when fully inflated.
- Balloons are filled with 12 tanks of helium, which controls how quickly the balloon ascends. When a balloon is ready to be taken out of service, gas is released from the envelope to bring the balloon down to Earth in a controlled descent. In the unlikely event that a balloon drops too quickly, a parachute attached to the top of the envelope is deployed.
- The balloons that are created after encompassing essential components of a cell tower are powered by renewable energy sources like the solar panels reportedly consists of two main radio transceivers capable of providing coverage to an area of up to 5000 square kilometers. High-speed internet is then transmitted by the nearest telecommunication partner from the ground.
- The translucent, jellyfish-shaped balloons fly way above where commercial aircraft and birds live. At 65,000 feet the balloons are in the stratosphere, whereas planes fly at a maximum altitude of 39,000 feet.When a balloon needs to come down, the Project Loon team communicate with local air traffic control who can find locate the balloon using location sensors so that a pick-up team can recall it.
- Each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area about 80 km in diameter using a wireless communications technology called LTE. To use LTE, Project Loon partners with telecommunications companies to share cellular spectrum so that people will be able to access the Internet everywhere directly from their phones and other LTE-enabled devices. Balloons relay wireless traffic from cell phones and other devices back to the global Internet using high-speed links.
- Project Loon is an initiative where balloons the size of tennis courts are launched 65,000 feet up in the sky and provide internet connections of up to 10Mbps to people on the ground. Google said it takes about six people to get a balloon in the air, from the launch commander to those doing ground checks. It has now done over 25 million kilometers of test flights, with one balloon surviving a record-breaking 190 days.
- Project Loon got started with a pilot test in June 2013 in the Canterbury area of New Zealand with 30 balloons in the air and 50 testers on the ground. The pilot test has since expanded to include a greater number of people over a wider area. Looking ahead, Project Loon will continue to expand the pilot, with the goal of establishing a ring of uninterrupted connectivity at latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, so that pilot testers in these latitudes can receive continuous service via the balloon-powered Internet.
- Project Loon helped connect people in Peruvian flood zones around Lia, Chimbote, and Piura. More than 800 provinces in Peru were declared to be a state of emergency, and Project Loon was able to provide basic internet connectivity to tens of thousands of people.
- Project Loon has provided internet access to 100,000 people in Puerto Rico. Project Loon’s reps claim the balloons have been able to bring basic internet connectivity to more than 100,000 people in Puerto Rico.The Loon team joined forces with AT&T and T-Mobile for the efforts, which sends the balloons some 65,000 feet in the air to create a network that relays LTE signals to telecom partners on the ground below (in this case, AT&T and T-Mobile). People on the ground can then access the internet using LTE-connected devices.
- Project Loon launched 10 balloons in Kenya in 2017 for testing to provide high-speed internet in Kenya. One of those balloons crashed in a farm of Kenya’s Nthambiro region. While the crash of the balloon in a farm late night caused panic, it reportedly caused no damages to life or property. Some residents complained of headaches after they gathered around the device to have a glimpse of the contraption.