Project Loon – The Technology


Project Loon – The Technology

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[Project Loon – The Technology]

[Project Loon] Source:
Many people don’t realize this, but the majority of the world is not connected to the Internet. How do we get cost-effective, inexpensive, and reliable connectivity to the remaining 5 or 6 billion people in the world who don’t have it?

Project Loon is the idea that we could create a network of high-altitude balloons that float about 20 kilometers up, and through this network we can give the Internet to the entire world. Our balloons are these great big round things, about 15 meters in diameter, but you’d have to have a telescope if you wanted to see one up in the sky. So here’s the surface of the planet. From here right up to about 10 kilometers, this is where rain happens, this is where mountains are, and pretty much all aircraft fly down here.

Now, here’s our little balloon up here. This is right around 20 kilometers; we’re actually in the stratosphere. And the stratosphere is different because we tend to have layers of wind that go in very particular directions. And by moving up and down through these different layers, we can steer. So by catching the right wind, we can keep these balloons together enough to give good coverage on the ground.

We can sail with the winds, shape the waves and patterns of these balloons, so that when one balloon leaves, another balloon is set to take its place.

The balloons communicate with specialized Internet antennas on the ground. So, this antenna here points up at the sky and talks to this balloon, and each one of these balloons talks to their neighboring balloons, and then back down to the ground station, which is connected to the local internet provider. What this does is it creates a network in the sky. We’ve designed our radios and antennas specifically to receive signals from Project Loon only, in order to achieve the high bandwidth over long distances involved. If we didn’t filter out the other signals, the technology just wouldn’t work.
The balloons are completely solar-powered and we control them through Loon Mission Control. “Alright, I think your plan is great. Do the ascent on 46 and 47. Try it like an hour after float.”

“OK. We’re gonna be off the ground in a couple minutes.”

Before we send them up, we talk to Air Traffic Control, to let them know these balloons are on their way up so they know where they are, and before they come down we also talk to Air Traffic Control.

We can direct them to land in various collection points around the world in order to reuse and recycle their parts.

[Project Loon] Source:
Now we have some ability to steer in general, however, in the stratosphere, most of the time the winds actually flow from west to east. Because the winds generally circulate this way, we typically will have bands of our balloons that will be around the world at different latitudes.

So if the balloons are circling around the bottom half of the world, eventually the balloon that’s over South Africa will pass over South America.

“One, two, three!”

We’re using the sunlight, we’re using the wind, we’re using all of these things to build this network in the sky. Project Loon is working to bring the technologies of access to everyone on the planet.

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