November 30, 2023

PBX Science

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Google high-altitude balloon project comes back to life

2 min read

Google high-altitude balloon project comes back to life


Google high-altitude balloon project comes back to life

Google has tried to use the high-altitude balloon project Loon to provide Internet to remote areas, but the project was shut down last year after failing to find a viable business model.

However, the technology associated with it has been spun off into the hands of a startup that has abandoned the idea of ​​floating platforms and instead uses lasers and cloud technology to bring internet to remote areas.


Google high-altitude balloon project comes back to life



The company, called Aalyria, inherited Google’s high-altitude balloon internet technology.

Although Google parent Alphabet holds a minority stake in the company, it is no longer a direct subsidiary of Alphabet.


Currently, Aalyria is small, with only 26 people. While it has access to Google’s technology, there’s a difference between developing and testing cool technology and actually being able to use it in the real world, a lesson Google’s own high-altitude balloon pilot commercial service in Kenya has discovered.


Still, the idea has apparently sparked enough interest to attract some investors, including the U.S. Department of Defense.

Aalyria said it had been awarded an $8.7 million commercial contract from the Department of Defense Innovation.


Aalyria has two business focuses: Tightbeam, a laser communication system that uses light beams to transmit data between base stations and endpoints, and Spacetime, a cloud-based software that handles changing connections.


Spacetime’s original role was to predict how the Loon balloons would move and keep them in close contact.

Its job now is to predict when Tightbeam base stations (which can be terrestrial or satellite-based) have to disconnect from moving objects such as planes or boats.


Tightbeam is designed to enable data transmission very similar to fiber optics, delivering light from one point to another.

Only, it transmits through the air rather than a physical connection, which obviously makes it more flexible, especially over long distances.


Aalyria claims the system’s transfer speeds are staggering: “100-1000 times faster than any system currently available”.

Aalyria says it can send data at 1.6 terabits per second (terabits) over hundreds of miles, which would be about 1,000 times faster than similar technologies in use today.


Aalyria is currently selling its software and plans to sell Tightbeam hardware next year.

In theory, the two can work together or separately. Spacetime isn’t just limited to laser-based systems.


In addition, Aalyria seems to want to take on SpaceX. Aalyria hopes its laser communication technology will be used to serve aircraft, ships, cellular connectivity and satellite communications.


SpaceX’s Starlink Internet project has begun using more airwaves to provide Wi-Fi to some airlines, cruise ships, recreational vehicles and home Internet customers.

SpaceX recently partnered with U.S. carrier T-Mobile to bring satellite connectivity to phones .


Some of Aalyria’s tests of Tightbeam include sending a signal to the aircraft from a ground station.

Similarly, they can send signals to satellites, the company’s website says.



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