Google’s high-flying Project Loon is finally taking internet to the sky — with the help of a South Dakota company in charge of the balloons that will bring connectivity to rural and developing areas around the world.
Raven Industries, Inc., a Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based company that specializes in high-altitude technologies is creating ultra-thin balloons made out of polyethylene film for Google Loon’s pilot project. Those very balloons are now testing out connectivity in rural parts of New Zealand. The 60-foot balloons are designed to fly in the stratosphere at an altitude of 66,000 feet, and are equipped with proprietary technology that allows operators to change their direction mid-flight. According to Plastics News, they are also made from a reclaimed material that, when collected, can actually be repurposed over again into new products.
Google has already seen some success in New Zealand, blanketing nearly 10,000 square kilometers with increased internet with a trial group of just 30 balloons. While the project has a long way to go before it reaches its full scale, Google Loon is certainly making one American manufacturer — and its employees — very, very busy.