Thursday, June 18, 2015

Eglin testing Google balloons

High-flying balloons that may one day bring affordable internet to those with no access are now undergoing tests at McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in Northwest Florida. The tests are designed to give engineers an up-close look at how the balloons, which have managed to stay aloft for extended periods, behave in extreme cold. Two years ago Google launched 30 balloons into the stratosphere from New Zealand in Project Loon. Since then, collectively they've traveling twice around the world at an altitude of more than 15 miles. At McKinley, the test balloons were inflated to 49 feet in diameter in the extreme cold. The 55,000-square-foot McKinley hangar is used by the Air Force to test aircraft in extreme temperatures. The extreme cold can be as low as -60 degrees. Commercial companies have also used the lab. (Sources: multiple, including Wired, 06/15/15, Daily Mail, Gazette Review, 06/17/15)