The Internet has transformed the way the world communicates, the way we conduct business, the way we learn, expand our horizons and exchange ideas, but not everyone can harness the benefits and advantages it provides. Billions of people around the world are still without internet access.

Project Loon is a network of high-altitude balloons travelling on the edge of space at an altitude of 18km-25km, delivering connectivity to people in unserved and underserved communities around the world, delivering connectivity in the most remote places, filling coverage gaps.  This altitude and layer of the stratosphere is advantageous for the balloons because of its low wind speeds, which are usually recorded between 5mph and 20mph.

The Loon Network

The Loon network will also serve to improve network resilience in the event of disasters where reliable communication is essential.  The balloons maneuverer by adjusting their altitude in the stratosphere to float to a wind layer identified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.   Their latitude and longitude position can be adjusted by changing the density and volume of internal gas.

Loon partners with mobile network operators, globally to expand the reach of their service, antennas transmit connectivity across a balloon network, direct to a standard LTE phone, which is all that the user requires.

The balloons are designed to endure winds of over 100km and temperatures as low as -90°C, made from polyethylene they are designed to fly for over 100 days (the longest flight to date is 187 days) before making their controlled descent by parachute, all the time being tracked by GPS.  Whilst always researching and aiming to extend the longevity of the flight, it is important to consider that a shorter duration can be an advantage.  With the emergency of constantly developing technologies, the electronics on board can be updated so the balloons will always be the most advanced possible.

Solar panels power the system during daylight hours whilst simultaneously charging on onboard battery for flight during night-time hours.

Having already travelled collectively for over 1 million hours, a minimum of 40 million kilometres have been travelled.

Superyachts with balloons

So, where does the Loon Network sit within the superyacht industry?  High band internet connectivity whilst far out at sea is often intermittently available and very expensive.  Could superyachts of the future have their own balloon to ensure its connection, wherever it travels?  This is one to keep watching …..

Find out more about Loon LLC here

Featured image source (c) Loon

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