In 2011, after 3 years of deliberation and incubation, Google commenced the unofficial developmental process of its balloon-based connectivity project that had already been three years in the making. The term “Project Loon” is derived from the fact that Google’s stated plans for higher worldwide Internet accessibility involved the creation of a stratospheric balloon transmission network.
Since Google’s first announcement of Project Loon, its vision was that of a widespread proliferation of 4G LTE signals generated by designated balloons made to strategically float skyward and maintain the transmission.
At an altitude edging on the upper limits of the atmosphere, Google predicted that its 4G device-implanted balloons would be capable of facilitating a more all-inclusive line of contact between wider swathes of the globe and the Internet than what was previously possible.
Origins Of The Balloon Internet Project
What is now affectionately referred to as the “balloon Internet project” was spearheaded out of an observation of the fact that more than fifty percent of the globe still lacks online access. The ambition of the project, if realized, would enable people in the more remote and rural parts of the globe to finally have the same Internet access as those residing in more metropolitan civilizations.
Current Balloon Flight Records
The longest period of time that a balloon in the fleet has managed to stay aloft so far is 190 days. In the 190 days that the longest-surviving balloon remained aloft, maximum altitude that the balloon was able to climb to was 20,353 meters. Manufactured in Project Loon’s “Nighthawk Design,” the balloon was 15 meters wide, 10 meters high, and has a volume of roughly 1250 meters.
The balloon’s maximum speed was 162 kilometers per hour, at which it overflew 19 separate countries. The balloon was capable of remaining fully operational at a temperature as low as -118 degrees Fahrenheit, and by the end of its 190-day flight, it had collectively generated an output of 1.72 gigajoules of solar panel energy.
The Launch And Transmission Process
The project is conducted through the continuous launching of new balloons into the stratosphere every half-hour from a series of Autolaunchers. To date, the total collective mileage of test flights that have been conducted exceeds of 19 million kilometers.
The balloons used for the project do not just operate independently, but as an intercommunicating web of transmitters that each receive signal relayed from the balloon nearest to the core telecommunications source. Once the signal from operators’ telecommunications base touches base with the nearest balloon, that balloon immediately shares the transmission with all other balloons in the fleet that can be as far as 100 kilometers away.
The speed of transmission from the ground base, to the nearest balloon, to the collective balloon fleet and back to the ground has demonstrated the ability to facilitate a 10 Mbps connection speed.
Currently, ongoing operation of balloon-powered Internet project has incurred a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. It is anticipated that has the project receives more backing to fund thorough research and expansion, the operating costs could feasibly be cut down to more economical rates.
At this time, Google has expressed relative optimism at the project’s prospects. If successfully implemented, Google has projected that the Project Loon’s annual revenue could rise as high as $4 billion.