Project Loon Balloon Crosses WA Coast

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Geoff
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Project Loon Balloon Crosses WA Coast

Post by Geoff » Sun May 13, 2018 7:31 pm

A Project Loon balloon crossed the WA coast near Cervantes this evening, tracking east-northeast at an altitude of 19km with a callsign of HBAL221.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Loon wrote:Project Loon is a research and development project being developed by X (formerly Google X) with the mission of providing Internet access to rural and remote areas. The project uses high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere at an altitude of about 18 km (11 mi) to create an aerial wireless network with up to 4G-LTE speeds.
It can be tracked via ADS-B with RTL-SDR setups or through sites such as plane.watch and Flightradar24.

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Last edited by Geoff on Sun May 13, 2018 8:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Infernal
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Re: Project Loon Balloon Crosses WA Coast

Post by Infernal » Sun May 13, 2018 7:54 pm

They do fly over quite regularly.

The question I have is, they are there to supply internet to places that dont have internet, how do those people know when the balloon is over their area in order to connect to the internet?

Geoff
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Re: Project Loon Balloon Crosses WA Coast

Post by Geoff » Sun May 13, 2018 8:36 pm

It's definitely an interesting concept. If only more would get blown in our direction so we could see how they group together.

Whilst I don't know how many balloons will be required for a given area of coverage, their ability to change altitude like a traditional hot air balloon allows them to have some choice over wind direction. This has proven successful for disaster relief, most recently for Puerto Rico after it was struck by Hurricane Maria.

The following articles are worth a read:
https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/10/how-google-is-using-balloons-to-extend-cellular-service-in-puerto-rico/ wrote:At high altitudes, the winds mostly move in one direction, so the company's original plan was to just release a steady stream of balloons and have them slowly float around the world. As one balloon floated out of range for any given customer, there would be another one behind it. With enough balloons, people at certain latitudes would be within range of at least one balloon at all times.

But as X experimented with its balloons, the company realized that it could actually use wind to steer them north, south, east, and west. The balloons have on-board pumps that allow them to move up and down.

“From our millions of kilometers of test flights, we’ve been able to develop sophisticated models that allow us to more accurately predict the wind patterns at different altitudes,” a Project Loon post said in 2016. “Using this data, our software algorithms are able to determine which altitude has a wind pattern that gives us the best chance of keeping our balloons close to the areas where we want them.”
https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/02/project-loon-engineer-sees-a-tool-for-future-disaster-response-in-puerto-rico/ wrote:The initiative delivered Internet to 100,000 Puerto Ricans by early November, and Candido says the number exceeds 200,000 now (February).

The company simulates 30 million kilometers of potential navigation daily to better understand how jet streams and weather patterns will impact balloon routes. Eventually, the team settled on a path that launches from Winnemucca, Nevada, and travels south. To date, balloons are still being launched on this trajectory, and as many as five to seven can be canvassing the island at a time.

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