Loon

Loon is building a new layer of the connectivity ecosystem in the stratosphere. From the early days of testing weather balloons, to designing and building custom launch equipment, to providing connectivity to people after natural disasters, we are committed to tackling the challenge of extending internet access worldwide. We are excited to continue this journey as we build new partnerships, innovate new technologies and connect more people, places and things.

2020

Loon and HAPSMobile develop a communications payload for unmanned aircraft system (UAS)

Following our announcement of a strategic partnership in 2019, Loon and HAPSMobile develop a communications payload for the HAWK30, a UAS designed to provide connectivity via drone, demonstrating the versatility of Loon’s technology.
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2020

Loon complements terrestrial networks

Signal Research Group (SRG) validates that Loon’s stratospheric balloons coexist with terrestrial LTE networks with minimal impact while improving coverage in areas where coverage does not exist and providing a positive user experience.
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2020

Loon unites with industry leaders to create HAPS Alliance

Loon unites with other leaders across the telecommunications and aerospace industries to create the HAPS Alliance, a group designed to collectively advocate for High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) business development. HAPS Alliance is working to create a cooperative HAPS ecosystem, develop common product specifications and promote the standardization of HAPS network interoperability.
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2019

Loon achieves over 1 million flights hours in the stratosphere flying 40 million kilometers

Loon successfully flies over 1 million hours in the stratosphere, a harsh and hostile operating environment. Along the way, Loon travels 40 million kilometers (enough to make 100 trips to the moon), charting new territory and applying machine learning to complex navigational tasks.
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2019

Loon connects Peru after earthquake

Within 48 hours of an 8.0 magnitude earthquake in Peru, Loon begins providing LTE connectivity to users affected by the disaster. Following successful efforts at reconnecting Peruvians, Loon signs a deal with Telefonica’s Internet Para Todos to expand internet access.
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2019

Loon SDN selected by Telesat

Loon’s custom-built temporospatial Software Defined Network (Loon SDN) is selected by Telesat, a leading global satellite operator, to support the development of their next generation low Earth orbit (LEO) global communications satellites.
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2019

Forming strategic partnerships

Softbank’s HAPSMobile and Loon form a long-term strategic relationship to advance the use of high-altitude vehicles, such as balloons and unmanned aircraft systems to bring connectivity to more people, places, and things worldwide.
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2019

Forming a Board of Distinguished Advisors

Loon forms an Advisory Board bringing together top wireless innovators with decades of experience in the industry.
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2018

Loon continues its journey

Project Loon graduates from X to fulfill our mission to connect people everywhere by inventing and integrating audacious technologies.
2017

Helping users in Puerto Rico

Collaborating with AT&T and T-Mobile, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Aviation Authority, FEMA, and many others, Project Loon provides basic connectivity to 200,000 people in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Project Loon launches balloons from Nevada, using machine learning algorithms to direct them over Puerto Rico.
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Helping out in Peru - how Project Loon has helped connect people in flood zones around Lima, Chimbote, and Piura.

Erik Gore, Project Loon's operations specialist, was on the ground when the floods hit and led the teams efforts to install the ground stations needed to send service up to the balloon network.

We were able to connect tens of thousands in the wake of the floods. This was the first time that Project Loon had been used at this scale to deliver connectivity.

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2017

Emergency connectivity in Peru

Working together with Telefonica and the Peruvian Government, Project Loon delivers basic connectivity to tens of thousands of people in flood-affected areas across the country. At 20 km up in the stratosphere, Loon balloons can provide connectivity where it is needed, regardless of what is happening below.
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In early 2017 Peru was hit by the worst flooding seen in decades, with the government declaring more than 800 provinces to be in a state of emergency. Project Loon was conducting small technical trials in Peru at the time, and so with balloons overhead and the potential to help, we opened up Loon connectivity to the general public for the very first time.

Project Loon helped connect people in the flood zones around Piura, Chimbote and Lima

Erik Gore, Project Loon's operations specialist, was on the ground when the floods hit and led the teams efforts to install the ground stations needed to send service up to the balloon network.

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2016

One balloon, 98 days

One of our Latin America flights manages to keep our balloon aloft in Peruvian airspace for a total of 98 days, making nearly 20,000 separate altitude adjustments.
2015

Autolauncher scales operations

The team develops a highly customized launch system that can fill, lift, and launch our tennis-court sized balloons in under 30 minutes.
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Our second autolaunch crane in Puerto Rico pictured here, affectionately named "Chicken Little" after his older brother "Big Bird" who lives in Nevada. Each crane can launch one balloon in just 30 minutes with a handful of operators.

"Chicken Little" is actually not so little, standing at more than 5 stories tall. The autolaunch crane is custom designed and built for Loon, and has dramatically improved our ability to scale up, in the speed and quality of our operations.

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2014

3 million kilometers traveled

Loon balloons log a significant milestone of traveling 3 million kilometers through the stratosphere, a distance that would get you to the moon and back nearly 4 times. Millions of kilometers of test flights help us to more accurately predict wind patterns at different altitudes, giving us the best chance to keep our balloons where we need them.
2014

First LTE connection

A local school in Agua Fria, in the rural outskirts of Campo Maior, Brazil is connected to the internet for the first time through a balloon launched nearby. This marks Project Loon’s first successful LTE connection.
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Rising quickly over the skies of rural Agua Fria, Brazil, a Loon test flight begins to inflate before its mission to deliver LTE connectivity to a local school gets underway.

Before making breakthroughs with algorithms that now help Loon to navigate the wind, our engineers had to mount antennas on trucks in order to chase the balloons and be underneath them to test service.

Before autolaunch cranes, or balloons that could fly for hundreds of days, a small team ventured to rural Brazil. The goal was to try to connect testers using Loon powered LTE technology for the first time. Loon successfully delivered the internet to a local school in time for their geography lesson.

While the team was in Brazil piloting LTE technology for a local school, Loon’s balloon engineers couldn't resist the opportunity to also test the weather and winds of this new locale. Loon launched 5 Ibis-class balloons (one of which is pictured here) to experience all that comes along with flying along the equator.

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2013

First WiFi connection

A sheep farmer in Canterbury, New Zealand is the first person to connect to balloon-powered internet through an antenna attached to the roof of his home. Project Loon is revealed to the public, which helps to explain some UFO sightings that were reported after testing around the world.
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A brisk winter morning in New Zealand's Canterbury Plains, with the Loon team getting ready to launch.

In the days leading up to our New Zealand pilot tests, the entire team would wake up in the middle of the night and begin balloon launch preparations for when the winds were calmest, right at dawn. Although tiring, it led to some very picturesque working conditions.

New Zealand launch day. Hours after sunrise, a flock of early Loon test flights were high above the skies of Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains in the South island, with Loon’s first real user–a sheep farmer in the plains, connected.

Imagery of a Loon balloon on its way to the stratosphere with New Zealand's Southern Alps in the background has served as a long-standing representation of our mission to connect people everywhere.

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2013

500,000 kilometers traveled

One of our balloons completes a lap around the world in 22 days, and our balloons have now travelled 500,000 kilometers. These learnings lead to major improvements in wind prediction models, balloon trajectory, forecast, and navigation.
2011

Testing an idea

Earliest tests start back in 2011, using a weather balloon and basic, off-the-shelf radio parts to create the first prototype. The next two years are a process of rapid iteration to prove that balloon-powered internet might just work.
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Sometimes early experiments didn't go as planned. Here a team of early Loon engineers chase down a failed launch in California's rural central valley. The garbage bag-looking balloon, although inflated, never got off the ground.

Before designing and building super pressure balloons that are capable of hundreds of days of flight, the team was hard at work understanding the laws of physics in the stratosphere. By using zero-pressure balloons like the one pictured here, the team observed how gas expanded and contracted at extreme temperatures and pressures, to understand their impact on the balloons’ ability to stay afloat.

Early Loon balloon prototypes came in all shapes and sizes, like this rectangular mylar party balloon concept that stood almost 4 stories tall. The concept wasn't utilized, but certainly not for its lack of luster!

Before taking balloons of new and novel design into real world flight, Loon would test its ability to seal and fill these mylar craft. Often, the balloons would be inflated all the way to burst pressures.

This early, circular-shaped balloon prototype was called "the orb."

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