Project Loon

Project Loon is the subsidiary of the Technology major Google. It aims to tap the Earthís stratosphere to provide internet connectivity to the remote areas of the world. At present, the internet connectivity system consists of only two basic methods, to deliver a connection, namely Signal from Space and Signal from the Ground. Project Loon is a third method to fulfill the demands of internet connectivity.

Key Points for UPSC Prelims

  • The project involves helium-filled balloons that remain in the stratosphere and create aerial wireless networks. The balloons are placed at an altitude of 18 km to 25 km in the stratosphere. The balloons move up or down to catch the favorable wind current.
  • The wind data is made available by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  • The users of this internet service access the internet from the balloon network through a special internet antenna.
  • Last year, the company announced that its balloons reached over one million hours of stratospheric flight.
  • The project has collaborated with several countries and their technology partners to provide internet connectivity.

Longest stratospheric flight Record

Project Loon balloon (HBAL703) has created a new record for the longest stratospheric flight by staying in the air for approximately a year, to be precise 312 days. †The helium-filled balloon covered a distance of around 2.1 lakh km (approx. 135,000 miles) during this period. The balloon was launched in May 2019 from Puerto Rico and landed in March 2020 at Baja, Mexico.

Loon and SoftBank

Loon and SoftBank Corporationís HAPSMobile Inc. has successfully developed a communications payload for HAPSMobileís HAWK30 in February 2020. HAWK30 is a solar-powered unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that flies in the stratosphere. This partnership is a part of the loon project to provide internet connectivity to people in remote areas.

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