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Project Loon

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It’s that time of year again folks! The red-carpet is out and the tuxedos and cocktail dresses are back from the dry-cleaners just in time for the glitz and glamour of our second annual Golden Balloon Awards.

This year’s awards shine the spotlight on some of the behind-the-scenes progress the team has made toward launching a ring of connectivity around the globe in 2016. We’ve been pushing the limits in testing this year, getting balloons up in the air faster, traveling further, and providing connections over longer and longer distances. So without further ado, we give you the best of the best from 2015...

#1 The Speed Racer - It would take the average clown at a birthday party 128 hours to inflate one of our tennis court sized Loon balloons and release it into the stratosphere (assuming the clown doesn’t pass out first), and by that point all the cake would be gone! Thankfully, we use our gigantic auto-launcher, custom designed to get Project Loon balloons from the box to the stratosphere quickly, safely and consistently. This year the team racked up a launch record of just 29 minutes to fill, lift and launch a Loon balloon into the stratosphere.

#2 The Globetrotter - Project Loon balloons have now travelled over 17 million kilometers since the project began, and this globetrotting balloon covered 113,000 km of them in just one flight, our longest distance traveller of 2015. Launched in May, the Globetrotter embarked on a journey of epic proportions, drifting in the stratosphere above 17 different countries before being brought to land in our Chilean recovery zone for a well-deserved retirement.

#3 The Dynamic Duo - Balloon-to-balloon communication allows Project Loon to connect even the most remote areas by bouncing signal across multiple balloons in the sky and back down to users many, many kilometers away. But, this is no easy task - transmitting data between balloons requires an accuracy equivalent to pointing a signal at a can of soda - 20 km up in the air and swaying in the wind! This award recognizes the tag-team effort of two very special balloons in demonstrating balloon-to-balloon connectivity. Launched in June as a simultaneous launch, this adorable couple were far from inseparable, at one point drifting over 100 km apart while data was continuously transmitted between them, the longest distance over which we have demonstrated balloon-to-balloon connectivity in the stratosphere.
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¿Por cuanto tiempo proporcionan el servicio?
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Following 17 million km of test flights across jungles, mountains and plains, Project Loon has signed agreements with three mobile network operators - Indosat, Telkomsel and XL Axiata - to begin testing balloon-powered Internet over Indonesia in 2016. 

Currently, only about one in three of Indonesia’s 250 million residents is connected to the Internet. Stringing fiber networks or installing and maintaining mobile phone towers across the more than 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia is a significant challenge. Through balloon-to-balloon communication, Project Loon has the capability to transmit signal from areas that are connected to an Internet groundstation and bounce that signal across a constellation of balloons and back down to even the most remote islands. In flight testing, the Loon team has already been able to wirelessly transfer data between individual balloons floating over 100 km apart in the stratosphere, enabling local network operators to extend their Internet service into areas that are too difficult to reach with current technology.

The Indonesian tests will form part of the foundation for our longer term goal of providing a continuous ring of connectivity in partnership with mobile network operators around the globe and, hopefully, bringing the power of the Internet to millions of individuals, wherever they are, for the very first time. Wish us luck!
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all the best.......
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When we launched Project Loon in 2013 we hoped to answer a single question - could balloons be used to connect people to the Internet? Proving that this was possible in our New Zealand launch then led the team to start asking a much larger question - how can we make this work for everyone, no matter where they are in the world? How do you manufacture enough balloons to be able to provide coverage anywhere in the world and then launch them and control them so that there is always a balloon overhead to provide connection to the user on the ground?

In this latest video Project Lead Mike Cassidy offers a glimpse behind the scenes into how the Project Loon team have been tackling the challenges involved in moving from small scale, one-off launches and tests, to the scale and automation required to make balloon-powered Internet for all a reality.
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What country will balloon internet come to first? Hope it is sri lanka!
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After a record-breaking 187 days aloft, we have recently landed the Project’s longest duration balloon in one of our Argentinian recovery zones.

That’s a long time! Enough time to hard-boil 33,660 eggs, or 134,640 if you like your yolk runny (doesn’t include eating time), or listen to Elton John’s “Rocket Man” just over 61,000 times. In the same time it took the Earth to complete half of its annual orbit of the sun, our record-breaker managed to circumnavigate the globe 9 times, enduring temperatures as low as -75c (-103 F) and wind speeds as high as 291 km/h, soaring to a maximum height of 21km and drifting over more than a dozen countries across 4 continents.

Having been in the air for just over 3 months we decided to put the balloon through its paces, making a series of altitude changes on its last circumnavigation to test our ability to fly north out of southern latitude bands. The test was successful and we managed to turn up to the Northern tip of Australia where we were able to access a much slower wind stream going in the opposite direction and sending our balloon lazily back over to South America. Finally, we brought it back into its original southern latitude band to swoop in and land in one of our Argentinian recovery zones for collection.

Recovery operations are now underway to bring the balloon back to the lab so the team can analyze this magnificent specimen and learn as much as possible about what makes such long durations possible, building these learnings into our future long-duration fleets before putting the record-breaker through our recycling process. We think that this balloon has definitely earned its retirement!
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+Rajesh Mahindra Line of sight RF transmission has a very low power requirement.
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3 million kilometers is a long journey. That distance would take you around the earth 75 times, or get you to the moon and back nearly 4 times over. It also happens to be the distance our Loon balloons have travelled through the stratosphere since the project began last year.

In that time we’ve learned a great deal about what it will take to bring the Internet to everyone, no matter where they are. For example, what footwear is it best for our manufacturing team to wear when they need to walk on the balloon envelopes? Turns out it’s very fluffy socks, the fluffier the better, to ensure the least amount of friction when building our balloons. This is just one of the hundreds of discoveries that has helped prevent leaks and refine our automated manufacturing process so that our balloons now last 10 times longer in the stratosphere than they did in 2013, with many lasting 100 days or more (our current record is 130 days!).

It’s one thing for our balloons to last longer, but to build a ring of connectivity around the world we’ll also need to get more in the air. Imagine how long it would take you and your friends to inflate 7,000 party balloons. That’s what it takes to fill just one of our Loon balloons for flight, so we’ve developed autofill equipment that will be capable of doing it in under 5 minutes. We now have the ability to launch up to 20 balloons per day as we continue to improve our ability to launch consistently at scale.

As we’ve launched more long-lasting balloons in the stratosphere we’ve needed to ensure that we can accurately maneuver them to where they need to go. By constantly computing thousands of trajectory simulations it turns out we can get pretty close to our targets.  For example, one flight came within 1.5km of our target destination over a flight of 9,000 kilometers, purely through predicting and sailing with the stratospheric winds. This is great for getting our balloons to where users need them, and great for getting balloons to our recovery zones at the end of their lifetime to make our recovery team’s job that much easier.

But perhaps one of the best illustrations of the progress we’ve made in our journey thus far are these pictures showing one of our uber-sophisticated launches from the earliest days of Project Loon compared to one of our more recent efforts. What a difference 3 million kilometers make; here’s to many more! 
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No one has experienced the Loon team’s commitment to balloon recovery as intensely as team member Nick Kohli, who despite being pretty seasick once manned a small fishing vessel in the choppy swells off of New Zealand’s South Island two days in a row so he could quickly collect any balloons we decided to bring down right off the coast. Since then, our recovery efforts have come a long way. In this edition of the #askaway series, Nick explains a bit more about how balloon recovery works.

Balloon recovery is so important to Project Loon that we have an entire team dedicated to recovering balloons. Before we bring the balloons we forecast how long they’ll last and plan accordingly. As +Mike Trieu  correctly surmised on the Loon Plus page a few months ago, Loon balloons are equipped with a GPS device so our team can track the balloons, know where they land and go and pick them up. 

Making sure we recover our balloons is the right thing to do for the environment, but it’s also vital to the success of our project. Each balloon is its own scientific experiment designed to test various aspects of Loon technology so we can create the best possible system. Recovering the balloons allows us to analyze them in depth and learn as much as possible from each one, which then allows us to rapidly develop our stratospheric balloon technology. 

Project Loon

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Obrigado to our friends in Agua Fria, Brazil, for helping us with the latest Project Loon test! Our goal was to try to connect testers using LTE for the first time, and we successfully delivered the Internet to the school in time for their geography lesson.


Project Loon

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What if it was possible to test and measure a balloon’s performance without it ever having to leave the ground? 

The conditions in which Project Loon balloons are manufactured here on earth are very different to the conditions up in the stratosphere, where our balloons have to contend with sub-freezing temperatures. Over time, these conditions can put significant stress on the balloon material. In this video, manufacturing lead Mahesh Krishnaswamy shows us how the team have been able to accelerate improvements in balloon lifetime, design and manufacturing - by bringing the stratosphere down to Earth!
Kathleen DePietro-Covey's profile photoAishwarya Walimbe's profile photoWilliam Muth's profile photoWilliam ransim's profile photo
+anil vishwakarma The Project Loon's FAQ says: "We’re looking for partners who can help us iterate on the technology. Please fill out this form, and we’ll be in touch if there is an opportunity to work together", with the link:

Hope that helps
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Today, Project Loon turns two! It’s been quite a journey—16 million kilometers to be precise—since we first connected sheep farmer Charles Nimmo to the Internet during our 2013 pilot test.

Our earliest tests started back in 2011, using a weather balloon and basic, off-the-shelf radio parts. These tests showed that balloon-powered Internet might just work, but the team knew that weather balloons wouldn't be a long term solution since they aren’t built to last in the stratosphere. So, our balloon enthusiasts got down to work and asked: if we wanted to bring balloon powered Internet to the whole world, what type of balloon would we need to build?

We started by building much, much bigger balloons able to hold equipment capable of beaming connectivity 20 km down to the earth below—starting with our modestly larger early Albatross design, all the way up to our 141-foot-long Hawk and beyond. To ensure there’s always a balloon overhead to provide connection, we needed to build a system that can manufacture these balloons at scale, leading to our latest balloon design, the Nighthawk, the likes of which has never been seen before.

Take a peek into our archives to see how our balloons have developed over time to deal with these challenges, from our very first ‘prehistoric’ balloons all the way to our latest flock design.
abhijeet shekhar's profile photoleandro rios's profile photoVanesa Yepes's profile photoMae Ann Talaga's profile photo
This has great potential during a disaster, when the normal means of communication is disrupted, like in Chennai, India Now... Who don't use this in Chennai as a test bed, were millions of people are suffering the void of internet, if successful will be a great boost to this project

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One of Project Loon’s earliest Eureka moments was the idea that we could provide continuous Internet connection not by keeping balloons stationary over a given location (which would require lots and lots of energy to work against the wind) but by coordinating a fleet of balloons to work with the wind, such that when one balloon leaves a location another moves into its place to continue providing connectivity. In theory, this means that any individual balloon would provide connection in one place and then, days later, provide connection at another location at the opposite end of the world. In our latest long distance LTE test this is exactly what we achieved!

Launched from New Zealand, our globe-connecting balloon made the first leg its journey travelling 9000 km over the Pacific Ocean. Approaching our test location in Chile at a speed of 80 km/h, a command was sent for the balloon to rise into a wind pattern that slowed it down to a quarter of its speed, allowing it to drift overhead members of the Loon operations team who were able to connect to the balloon via smartphones on our test-partner mobile network. 

Hanging around for half an hour to complete the connection testing, the balloon was then sent off on the winds over the South Atlantic ocean towards its next test location, over 10,000 km away in Australia! Our balloon completed this second leg of the journey in just 8 days, travelling over 1000 km per day and reaching a top speed of 140 km/h while whizzing over the ocean south of Africa. Once at the east coast of Australia the Loon Mission Control team implemented a series of altitude maneuvers to catch different winds and reverse the balloon path, lining it up to directly overfly our test location. Having travelled over 20,000 km around the world the balloon flew overhead at a ground distance of less than 500 meters away from our target (well within the 40,000 meter radius required for connection) to provide over 2 hours of Internet connection. That level of precision is like hitting a hole-in-one in golf from over 4 km away!

Tests like this give us real insight into how Project Loon can work at scale. With more balloons in the stratosphere and more Telco partners around the world capable of supporting Loon internet traffic, our ability to provide continuous connection in rural and remote areas will only increase. 
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Hai brothers when will it start in India?? 
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Welcome all to the inaugural Golden Balloon Awards 2014!

We are taking this opportunity to look at some of the greatest feats achieved by our Loon balloons as we wind our way to the end of 2014 and finish landing our fleet for analysis and upgrade. From frosty temperatures to country hoppers, speed demons to masters of endurance, we take a look at some of the records from the project to date. Here we go…

#1 The Marathoner - Launched from New Zealand in July 2014, the Marathoner just kept going and going, reaching 134 days aloft before being brought down to land in Chile. Constantly monitoring such a long-lasting balloon throughout its lifetime has provided us with lots of valuable data that can help us replicate this success in the future.

#2 Global Traveller - While much of our fleet spends its time sweeping around the globe, we decided that one balloon should take its time discovering the Southern Hemisphere. So we packed its bags, gave it some sage travelling advice in the form of our automated control algorithms and sent it on its own little trip around the world - and what a trip it had! Launching from Brazil as part of our LTE test in June 2014, we maneuvered it over 23 separate countries across South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania before finally landing it with a full passport and a balloon full of memories.

#3 Sprint Star - The quickest a Loon balloon has travelled is 324 km/h while rushing to the South Pacific ocean over Antarctica - a similar speed to the world’s fastest animal, a fellow traveller of the skies, the Peregrine Falcon. Like any good sprinter though, this balloon needed to rest up, reducing its speed to a relatively sluggish 67 km/h while travelling over the south of Argentina, and it is this difference in speed that is really important to us. To provide coverage where and when it’s needed will require balloons to whiz over certain areas and linger for longer at others so that there is always a balloon overhead where needed. 

#4 The Frosty Survivor - It can get very, very cold up in the stratosphere. The coldest temperature one of our balloons had to endure was -83°C (-117°F) while travelling over the Chilean/Argentine border. The cold is a real challenge for our balloon manufacturing team. At such low temperatures the balloon envelope can become brittle and fragile. Selecting the right material and stress-testing it at extremely low temperatures in our labs has helped ensure that Loon balloons are durable enough to handle these temperatures for long periods of time.

#5 High-Flier - All Loon balloons fly roughly 20 kilometers above the earth’s surface, twice as high as commercial jets. This high-flier, however, reached our record altitude of 25.8 kilometers while travelling over the South Pacific ocean; nearly three times the height of Mount Everest. Altitude control is fundamental for maneuvering balloons, as different altitudes have different wind speeds and directions which our planning algorithms can predict and use to get our balloons to where they need to be. So, to our high-flier, we salute you for reaching higher than any Loon balloon has ever reached before! 
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+Dilshan Kathriarachchi sl must have this..
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+Alan Eustace , come say hi to our Loon balloons next time you're up in the stratosphere!
About four years ago, one of our senior VPs, Alan Eustace, started kicking around a new idea: coming up with a way to explore the stratosphere similar to the way scuba divers explore the ocean. He pulled together a small team of scientists and engineers, and they got to work building and testing a system that could carry him high above the earth.

Early this morning, wearing the system he and the team developed -- a custom-made pressurized spacesuit, lifted via a helium-filled balloon -- Alan ascended to 136,000 feet before skydiving safely back down to earth, breaking the sound barrier on his way. He’s the first person to ever ascend to that altitude, and only the second to break the sound barrier outside of an airplane. Crazy, right! All in a day’s work when it comes to furthering scientific exploration...

Read more about the mission here:
A helium-filled balloon lifted Alan Eustace, a Google executive, to more than 25 miles above the earth. Fifteen minutes after he cut himself loose, he was on the ground.
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I would just keep them 
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Have them in circles
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Balloon-powered Internet for everyone.
Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to provide Internet coverage for people in rural and remote areas, help fill in coverage gaps and bring people back online after disasters.