Google Project Loon Internet balloon circled the globe in 22 days

A Project Loon balloon.

Google’s plan to deliver Internet service from balloons seems to be flying along nicely, as the company says one of its balloons just completed “a lap around the world in 22 days and has just clocked the project’s 500,000th kilometer as it begins its second lap.”

Project Loon, unveiled nearly a year ago, is an attempt to use solar-powered balloons to create networks that can send wireless Internet signals to areas that would be hard to reach with wired Internet. The balloons are supposed to form a mesh network 20 kilometers above the ground, with each balloon communicating with its neighbors and ultimately to ground stations connected to Internet providers. Internet signals would be sent to antennas installed on buildings.

It’s just in the prototype phases, but Google’s testers have been busy. The balloon that circled the world “enjoyed a few loop-de-loops over the Pacific ocean before heading east on the winds toward Chile and Argentina, and then made its way back around near Australia and New Zealand,” Google’s Project Loon team said in a Google+ update Thursday. “Along the way, it caught a ride on the Roaring Forties—strong west-to-east winds in the southern hemisphere that act like an autobahn in the sky, where our balloons can quickly zoom over oceans to get to where people actually need them.”

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