Google is enlisting some of the world's foremost experts on balloons to turn its ambitious Project Loon into reality. The search company has partnered up with French space agency CNES to "pool resources and research" and help complete Google's plan to bring high-speed internet to poor, rural corners of the world with a fleet of balloons with antennas on board.
These guys know their balloons
The partnership should be good news for Google, because CNES isn't just some backwater space agency. It's said to have one of the largest stratospheric balloon programs in the world, second only to NASA, with a team of roughly 60 scientists on board. The agency has been working on using high-altitude balloons for research of the stratosphere for over 50 years.
Neither Google nor the agency have revealed the specifics of the partnership, but CNES says it will "contribute to ongoing balloon flight analysis and to the development of next-generation balloons" for Project Loon. In exchange, Google will assist CNES with its plans to continue its analysis of the "ozone hole" above Antarctica with high-altitude balloons.
Even without CNES' expertise, Google has reached some impressive milestones with Loon: its balloons are now surviving over 100 days in flight, a feat that far surpassed what any experts thought the company could achieve.