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Loon Sets New Record for Longest Stratospheric Flight

One of Alphabet’s Loon balloons has had a serious journey. After launching in Puerto Rico it headed to Peru, and then passed over the South Atlantic, Indian and South Pacific oceans, until it was picked up in Baja, Mexico, 10 months and 135,000 miles later. Here’s more from engadget:

Alphabet said that it hit the milestone through a combination of design, materials science, manufacturing and how the balloons are flown. For instance, the team flies “millions of simulated flights before we even get started on the hardware,” wrote Loon CTO Salvatore Candido.

It can also now build them so there are no tiny defects that can drastically shorten flights. “We’ve been able to figure out how to reliably and at scale cut, seam together in a pumpkin shape, wrap up, stuff in a giant box, and ship balloons across the country to our launch sites,” Candido wrote. The company also learned how to fill the balloons in around 45 minutes and shield them from wind while doing so, ensuring they don’t get battered by the elements before launching.

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