Project Loon, Google’s initiative to bring affordable, high-speed internet to the entire world via hot air balloons acting as floating hotspots, is getting some new help from CNES, France’s space agency. Google is relying on CNES’s over 50 years of experience and research with high-altitude balloons to bring this project closer to reality.
CNES is to come only after NASA in terms of the size and scope of its stratospheric balloon program. The partnership with Google will see CNES analyzing data from current tests, as well as helping to develop “next-generation balloons.” Google, in turn, will help the French agency with its high-altitude balloon flights to the stratosphere in order to study the ozone.
Officials from CNES have admitted that they were full of doubt upon first hearing of Project Loon, what with Google’s plan to launch over 100,000 balloons that need to be retrieved after losing air. However, after successful test launches from New Zealand last year, they admitted that Google’s idea began to appear feasible.
Even before the announcement of this partnership, Project Loon has earned several important achievements recently, such as individual balloons being able to stay afloat for over 100 days, as well as plans to conduct new tests in Australia with assistance from local carrier Telstra.