Feeds

Google launches broadband balloons, radio astronomy frets

A careless Loon could blind the square kilometre array

High performance access to file storage

Nearly the whole science and tech world is turning cartwheels at Google's “Project Loon”, Google's audacious “bring the Internet to the world using weather balloons” test that kicked off in New Zealand over the weekend.

As Wired notes, having flown to New Zealand for the launch, Project Loon came out of the same “Project X” skunkworks that gave birth to the driverless car.

The grand vision is to send hundreds – or thousands – of weather-balloon style craft into the upper atmosphere. Instead of tethering a blimp, these would be allowed to move with the wind, and steered by either lifting or lowering them into air-streams moving in different directions. At 60,000 feet (around 20,000 metres), they're well above air traffic altitudes, so there's no danger to passing aircraft.

The Google-designed solar-powered radio kit is designed to deliver “3G-like” speeds to users with a “special antenna” (sorry for not being more specific than Google is being, as the Chocolate Factory isn't returning calls) within a 40 Km footprint for each balloon. The balloons will also communicate with each other, and with ground stations to get to the Internet backbone.

Balloons will only have a relatively short lifetime, but they ought to send enough telemetry and GPS data back to Earth to allow recovery after landing so the radio kit can be dispatched on a new mission.

As this setup is relatively cheap, Mountain View has no trouble imagining this as a means to bring affordable broadband to the whole world. It's a feel-good don't-be-evil story placed as only Google can place stories.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.