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Google Loon

Posted by: Lourens - Sun Jun 16, 2013 5:30 pm
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Post Google Loon   Posted on: Sun Jun 16, 2013 5:30 pm
Have you seen this?

They don't even mention it, but think of the Arab Spring and the political implications of this as well. Add peer-to-peer mesh networking capability to cell phones and enough Loon antennas hidden away from view, and no government will be able to deny its citizens access to free information and communication.

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Post Re: Google Loon   Posted on: Sun Jun 16, 2013 8:26 pm
This is the first I hear about this. Looks like a good idea with enough money and talent to made it work. Usually things fail because you have too little of either or both.

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Post Re: Google Loon   Posted on: Sun Jun 16, 2013 10:57 pm
Why not Ad-Hoc using everyones existing cell phones?

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Post Re: Google Loon   Posted on: Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:23 am
Currently, individual phones don't have the processing and bandwidth to be able to handle it. Remember most of the cell phones available in the developing world are very basic devices, not smart phones.

As for this being able to usurp government control of communications, large balloons floating in the stratosphere and radiating furiously won't be hard to find or intercept.

They are also going to be more expensive and have less life than surface tower cell sites. Most likely utility for this technology is if the worst happens and we have a cascading orbital debris crisis which takes away our satellite communications capacity.


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Post Re: Google Loon   Posted on: Mon Jun 17, 2013 1:36 am
Yeah... what JamesG said.

But I'm curious, do we really have a sufficient quantity of stuff floating around in space to create that type of event? Or will we in the near future? Space (even LOE) is an awfully big place. It's one thing to have an occasional hole punched in your solar array or a crack in your window, but a cascading destructive event that takes out all or most of our communication satellites?

I may be displaying my ignorance here - and if I am I'm sure I can count on JamesG to bluntly point it out :D - but this sounds like a 22nd or 23rd century concern to me.

Not arguing with the overall point though, the balloons represent a backup (perhaps a cheaper one?) to the satellites. And there's no question that orbital collisions can pose some level of threat to communications.

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Post Re: Google Loon   Posted on: Mon Jun 17, 2013 3:49 am
Google for "orbital debris" and you will be alarmed.

Near Earth Space (LEO up to GEO) IS a big space, but there are ten thousand big objects and probably a million down to the size of bolts and sand grains. And each one makes a pass around each other every 90 minutes to 24 hrs. All collisions WILL create even more pieces given the energies involved. And then it is only a matter of time before it grows and grows.

If we are really lucky it will be a 22nd century problem. But it could start any day. The only way we will know is that our sats started winking out.


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Post Re: Google Loon   Posted on: Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:59 am
Good points. I sit corrected.

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Post Re: Google Loon   Posted on: Tue Jun 18, 2013 1:54 pm
And I concede that it's probably easy to jam even if you don't shoot the balloons out of the sky...

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Post Re: Google Loon   Posted on: Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:44 am
most comm sats are in GEO and hence completely unaffected by the orbital debris "crisis" in LEO. Nav sats and many important earth observing sats are LEO and it would be a real problem if they started getting seriously damaged, but other than Iridium and Globalstar most fixed satellite services, and now increasingly mobile and maritime services as antenna technology improves, are located in GEO. while there is some orbital debris in GEO (and its half life is basically infinity), GEO has the very nice property of not being a stable orbit. if you don't have any propellant you will rapidly drift out of the plane and your eccentricity will also change due to solar radiation pressure and etc. This makes it very safe for sats that actively maintain their orbit. Additionally, on decommissioning GEO sats raise their orbit by a couple hundred meters to the "GEO graveyard" which makes sure that they will never collide with anything.

that being said, i saw a funny video from one GEO sat where a thermal blanket floats in front of one of its solar array deployment monitoring cams. can't find it online (saw while i was at SS/L). it was moving pretty slow relative to the satellite.

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Post Re: Google Loon   Posted on: Wed Jun 19, 2013 3:28 pm
JamesG wrote:
Currently, individual phones don't have the processing and bandwidth to be able to handle it. Remember most of the cell phones available in the developing world are very basic devices, not smart phones.

As for this being able to usurp government control of communications, large balloons floating in the stratosphere and radiating furiously won't be hard to find or intercept.

They are also going to be more expensive and have less life than surface tower cell sites. Most likely utility for this technology is if the worst happens and we have a cascading orbital debris crisis which takes away our satellite communications capacity.


Not sure about the more expensive bit. Lifetime will be less than a tower, but the plan is to recover landed payloads and relaunch where possible. Balloons are cheap compared with the infrastructure required to build a tower network, and MUCH cheaper than the security required to stop the towers being scavenged for metals! You also need to connect the towers to backhaul, which doesn't yet exist where these devices are meant to be used, and again suffers the same problem with metal theft.

Let's be honest, Google wouldn't be pumping money in to it if there was a cheaper/better way.

When fully inflated these things are a piece of latex the size of a house, with very little radar signature on the payload. I'm not convinced they will be that easy to knock out (how many AA missiles get to 20km? Twice as high as airliners?)


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Post Re: Google Loon   Posted on: Wed Jun 19, 2013 5:09 pm
Ad hoc mesh net cell phones are whats next.....

you can't cut the signal, as it is everyone....

our trash in 5 years will be the worlds treasure....

arm chipsets will be outdone by X, making them almost free...

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Post Re: Google Loon   Posted on: Wed Jun 19, 2013 8:08 pm
TerraMrs wrote:
most comm sats are in GEO and hence completely unaffected by the orbital debris "crisis" in LEO.


Not necessarily. There is enough junk in eccentric GEO crossing orbits that it could be a menace, plus we don't know how much stuff would get kicked into wild orbits as well, like from punctured propellant tanks etc.

Dismissing the risk is not wise IMO.


JamesHughes wrote:
Not sure about the more expensive bit. Lifetime will be less than a tower, but the plan is to recover landed payloads and relaunch where possible. Balloons are cheap compared with the infrastructure required to build a tower network...


Not when you consider that they will have to be special lightweight and high powered components along with power systems. All of which will be very expensive.

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and MUCH cheaper than the security required to stop the towers being scavenged for metals! You also need to connect the towers to backhaul, which doesn't yet exist where these devices are meant to be used, and again suffers the same problem with metal theft.


That is more a sociopolitical problem. I.e. you make the local warlord/ chief the president of the cell system company/cooperative in his area.

Quote:
Let's be honest, Google wouldn't be pumping money in to it if there was a cheaper/better way.


This is one of Google's pie-in-the-sky "X" projects. A welcomed tax write-off if nothing else. And from their way of thinking this would probably be considered a "loss leader" where they can lose money on it to expand their market share of eyeballs for their ads and customer's e-products.

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When fully inflated these things are a piece of latex the size of a house, with very little radar signature on the payload. I'm not convinced they will be that easy to knock out (how many AA missiles get to 20km? Twice as high as airliners?)


As mentioned earlier, these will not only have a big solar array (which makes a nice radar reflector) but will be radiating EM furiously in operation. They won't be hard to find, or jam, although I doubt it would ever come to that.


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