The Loon internet-beaming balloon carried out a record-breaking amount of days spent up in the stratosphere—312—as it circumnavigated the world for 10 months.
Alphabet's Loon balloon spent its time over the Southern Hemisphere during its latest sky-high voyage. The point of the exercise is to ready a fleet of Loon balloons to beam internet to hard-to-reach and disaster-stricken areas on the planet.
The plan is for each balloon to service internet to an area of around 50 miles (80km) in diameter when all is ready.
Up in the air
For such a project to work properly, the balloons need to be able to stay aloft for as long as possible. Hence Loon's latest long-flight duration test. Previously, the record for Loon's balloons remaining in the stratosphere was 223 days, per New Atlas' report.
The journey of HBAL703, the balloon's rather uninspiring name—yet it's such an inspiring project—began in May 2019 in Puerto Rico. It moved across to Peru for a three-month testing stint, before moving on to more southern locations flying eastwards above the South Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and moving up above the South Pacific Ocean.
The balloon lingered over the South Pacific region for seven months in what was a navigation system experiment. It finally set down in March this year in Baja, Mexico, per Tech Xplore.
The trip's point was to gather information to keep improving the technology and ultimately provide internet. We're sure to see Loon's balloons breaking more and more records as their technology keeps improving and time spent aloft will keep increasing.
Alphabet isn't the only corporation working on improving internet access. Elon Musk's SpaceX company has been launching internet-beaming satellites up into space as part of its Starlink mission—one that will provide internet to hard-to-reach regions of the Earth.
In the meantime, use your internet connection to watch this fascinating footage of Loon balloon's most recent 312-day endeavor: