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Engineer, Balloonist Lindstrand: Google Loon a "Waste of Time"
by Karl Bode 06:15PM Monday Sep 23 2013
Back in June Google unveiled Google Loon, the latest in a long line of similar projects that will use hot air balloons to deliver broadband and wireless services to under-served or emergency prone areas. Project Loon will use hot air balloons 49 feet wide stationed 12 miles above the planet, well above the range of commercial aircraft. Ground base stations set some sixty miles apart communicate with solar-powered radio transmitters affixed to the balloons, and Google steers the balloons using wind as they ride the 40th parallel.

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However, avid balloonist and aeronautical engineer Per Lindstrand believes that Google is wasting their time in the effort. Lindstrand, who has flown around the world with Richard Branson, argues that he told Google it was a waste of time, but they "didn't listen":
quote:
"Balloons blow away. Wind speeds at that altitude can reach up to 120 knots, so they won't stay there for more than a minute." Yeah, but surely Google can do that bit where they keep their Loon balloons in the air for 100 days, allowing the custom-built steering mechanism to keep them on track? Another categorical "No" from Per. "No-one has been able to do that before." "Normally a helium balloon at altitude can only stay up for 3-4 days, and if you set off a lot of balloons simultaneously around the world, sooner or later they're just going to collect at the North Pole or the South Pole. They can't stay in position."
According to Lindstrand, the project might work if Google used airships and then used the sun as a power source, though we haven't seen those kind of "blimpband" efforts take off either.

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bgraham

join:2001-03-15
Smithtown, NY

Pushing the Envelope.

I guess you have to push the envelope to make groundbreaking advances in any field, but this seems a little more than pushing the envelope.
I am sure many years ago some engineer sat in a meeting somewhere and told the boss that some idiot is trying to use glass instead of copper wire and they all had a good laugh.
ptbarnett

join:2002-09-30
Lewisville, TX

1 recommendation

They aren't hot air balloons

Karl, the last time you posted about Google Loon, it was pointed out these aren't hot air balloons.

They still aren't hot air balloons. They are gas balloons, using helium or hydrogen.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

1 recommendation

Re: They aren't hot air balloons

So they will still have to follow the laws of atmospheric dynamics
biochemistry
Premium
join:2003-05-09
92361
Here I was thinking air was made of various gases.

elios

join:2005-11-15
Springfield, MO
issue of getting them to stay put still stands
a balloon no matter what its filled with will have a BIG surface area
and the winds at that alt get to 100mph+ good luck getting it to hold over area with out some major power and solar wont cut it

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5
Reviews:
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Re: They aren't hot air balloons

at 64k feet winds are only 15-20 mph, very directional (headed east) and the atmosphere is very thin (9% of sea level) so it has little effect.
The end game is a huge constellation with a new loon drifting into sight as the old one drifts away, and each one covering hundreds/thousands of square miles.. "nights" would be very short, so solar with a modest battery probably would work.

Do I think this is practical? NO! but it's fairly decent sci-fi, that could work in THEORY.
cramer
Premium
join:2007-04-10
Raleigh, NC
kudos:9
So? It's the same problems.
• They're going to drift.
• Hot air won't stay hot forever (esp. at 60k feet), nor will He/H be contained in a balloon. (He leaks *through* even mylar balloons.)

Unless they plan on building the refueling platform from Stealth, they're going to have a near impossible time keeping it in place.

dvd536
as Mr. Pink as they come
Premium
join:2001-04-27
Phoenix, AZ
kudos:4

Re: They aren't hot air balloons

not if they're tethered.

tshirt
Premium
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:5

Re: They aren't hot air balloons

do you know what 12+ miles of string weighs?
what about wet string?
Lightning?
airplanes tangled in wet electric string?
African swallows and coconuts?

rit56

join:2000-12-01
New York, NY

Fiber

Maybe they could take some of that money and lay some fiber on the Lower East Side so I can dump TWC. Hey Google I'll buy a Triple Play Package from you.... already a return on your investment..

jap
Premium
join:2003-08-10
038xx

Still worth trying...

quote:
Lindstrand, who has flown around the world with Richard Branson, argues that he told Google it was a waste of time, but they "didn't listen."
Yeah, I too would more or less ignore the judgements of anyone who associates with Branson.

Let Google play with their money. Perhaps they named it Loon 'cause they know it's a longshot endeavor. We'll all gain knowledge either way.

fuziwuzi
Not born yesterday
Premium
join:2005-07-01
Atlanta, GA

Re: Still worth trying...

quote:
Yeah, I too would more or less ignore the judgements of anyone who associates with Branson.
Yeah, because Branson has been such an example of how not to succeed.
--
Teabaggers: Destroying America is Priority #1

You guys even bother reading the project summary?

Um, you guys know the premise is precisely because the wind blows and the balloons move with it? right?
Your argument that it can't work because the balloons move is exactly the same as saying cell phones don't work while a car is moving....
This is just cell towers on steroids, where the cell towers are the ones doing the moving 12 miles up in the air.

firephoto
We the people
Premium
join:2003-03-18
Brewster, WA

Google didn't buy this guy a balloon?

So I take it this guy didn't get a fancy around the world balloon and trip paid for by Google so he could be immortalized in the history books?

I could be wrong, but my guess is he hasn't flown around the world with a few corporate logos flying with him. This is not the first sign of being impartial.
--
Say no to astroturfing. go to their profile, start ignoring posts and ignoring what's not true.
b10010011
Whats a Posting tag?

join:2004-09-07
Bellingham, WA

Blimpband by any other name is still the same fail

Seriously? Several companies tried this in the early 2000's.

FAIL
--
Bellingham Scanner Kicks Ass! »bhamscanner.kicks-ass.org/
frank124c

join:2003-12-04
Brooklyn, NY

Google Loon

Instead of a balloon why not try those solar powered airplanes. They could stay up indefinately and if you have enough of them up they can bounce signals between them so that the whole world will be covered. If anyone uses this original idea, I will accept a finders fee.