Google has recently announced in a new video that the balloons in its innovative Project Loon will be able to stay afloat for 100 days, or circle the world three times.
Google is working on designing a network of balloons traveling in the stratosphere, designed to provide wireless internet coverage to people in rural and remote areas, and bring people back online after disasters.
In the video, Pam Desrochers, one of Google’s balloon manufacturing experts, stresses upon the need to engineer the right material for these balloons. The material would have to be durable enough for the balloon to stay afloat without becoming damaged by radically fluctuating weather conditions like extreme cold at night and warm when the sun comes up. The balloon will be further subject to stress due to increase and decrease of air pressure inside for altitude control.
According to Pam, 100 days is long enough to get a good life out of the balloon but not so long that the company has outmoded technology in the air.
Google launched Project Loon in June 2013, with a trial of 30 balloons taking off from New Zealand’s South Island and beaming Internet to a small group of pilot testers.
Though Google initially launched the test balloons made with polyethylene plastic, according to the video, it seems tests are still ongoing to decide the best possible material to make the balloons durable and ‘leak-proof’.