Skip to main content

Project Loon balloons clock up 500,000 km as Google continues with global Net project

google to further project loon with test flights over australia
Image used with permission by copyright holder

With Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org initiative getting a fair bit of coverage recently, it’s perhaps little wonder that Google has made an announcement of its own in the last few days to let us know it’s continuing with work on a similar project of its own.

Project Loon, you may recall, is Google’s sky-based plan to bring Internet access “to people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online after disasters.”

Unveiled last year, the Loon project involves giant balloons equipped with network devices capable of connecting with Internet antennas back on the ground.

500,000 kilometers

In case the details of its ambitious plan had slipped your mind, the Web giant recently announced that one of its balloons has had “quite a journey” in the past few weeks, floating around the world in 22 days, in the process helping to clock up the project’s 500,000th kilometer (that’s about 310,000 miles).

“It enjoyed a few loop-de-loops over the Pacific Ocean before heading east on the winds toward Chile and Argentina, and then made its way back around near Australia and New Zealand,” a post on the Project Loon Google+ page explained. “Along the way, it caught a ride on the Roaring Forties – strong west-to-east winds in the southern hemisphere that act like an autobahn in the sky, where our balloons can quickly zoom over oceans to get to where people actually need them.”

The post added that in the last nine months the team has been using collected wind data to refine prediction models and as a result can now forecast balloon trajectories much further in advance.

A number of other refinements have also been made to make the technology more efficient, with the improvements allowing for much faster altitude changes enabling the balloons to quickly catch – or even avoid – winds traveling in different directions.

“We can spend hours and hours running computer simulations, but nothing teaches us as much as actually sending the balloons up into the stratosphere during all four seasons of the year,” Google said in the post.

Thirty balloons were launched from a base in New Zealand in the initial test flight back in June 2013, with Internet beamed to a small group of people back on terra firma.

According to Google, the current goal is to establish “a ring of uninterrupted connectivity around the 40th southern parallel [this year] so that pilot testers at this latitude can receive continuous service via balloon-powered Internet.”

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Is there a Walmart Plus free trial? Get a month of free delivery
Walmart logo.

Take a moment and think about how often you shop at your local Walmart. Is it weekly? Daily? If either of those is the case, it might be time to upgrade your shopping experience. The Walmart Plus free trial is your chance to check out what the retail giant has to offer. Walmart Plus is basically Amazon Prime for Walmart. You get free shipping on most orders, early access to deals and new product drops (like PS5 restocks), the best grocery delivery, and more. If Walmart is your go-to option for the best smart home devices or the best tech products in general, you should get a membership. If you want to test out the service, you can sign up for a free trial. We have all the information you need right here.
Is there a Walmart Plus free trial?
There is a Walmart Plus free trial available, and it’s one of the best free trials we’ve seen in terms of how many great features and conveniences you’re able to access. This is really a reflection of how great the Walmart Plus service is, as the Walmart Plus free trial is essentially a 30-day experience of what it would be like to be a paid Walmart Plus subscriber. A Walmart Plus membership can help you save over $1,300 per year, so taking advantage of the 30-day free trial is a great way to get in there and see what those savings will look like. And if grocery delivery is what you're really after, an alternative you might consider is the Instacart free trial -- they have more than one program to try!

As part of a Walmart Plus free trial, you’ll get free shipping with no minimum order, so even small orders will qualify for free shipping. You’ll get fresh groceries and more with no delivery fees, and all at the same low in-store prices Walmart shoppers are used to. Walmart Plus members, and Walmart Plus free trial members, get exclusive access to special promotions and events, as well as a savings of up to 10 cents per gallon on fuel. A new addition to the perks of being a Walmart Plus member is free access to Paramount Plus, a top-notch streaming service with more than 40,000 TV episodes and movies. All of this is accessible for 30 days through a Walmart Plus free trial, and once those 30 days are up, Walmart Plus is just $8.17 per month or $98 annually.

Read more
How to deactivate your Instagram account (or delete it)
Instagram login screen.

If you’re tired of Instagram, deactivating your account could be a good option for you. With Instagram, you have two choices: You can deactivate your account, or you can delete it completely. We’ll review both options, so you can decide if you’d rather take a break or cut ties with Instagram forever. Just be cautious, as deleting your Instagram account removes all of your content permanently, and you won’t be able to get it back.

Read more
How to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows
A man sits, using a laptop running the Windows 11 operating system.

Windows includes many interesting tools, but if you’re like many people, more and more of your digital life is happening in your web browser and nowhere else. That being the case, you’ll want to keep your most important websites close at hand. The easiest way to access them in Windows is the Start menu and the taskbar, treating them more or less like programs in and of themselves.

Although easy overall, getting a website from your browser to your taskbar is slightly different depending on which browser you’re using.

Read more