Google lately confirmed that one of its Project Loon balloons crashed into power lines in the city of Yakima in south-central Washington State, damaging a power pole and cutting off electricity to homes within the area.
It was a trial balloon that the company launched from Nevada, where Google is conducting the tests.
The crash occurred at 1 a.m., says a spokesman from Pacific Power. The balloon and its components were safely removed from the site of the incident by 6 a.m. The spokesman noted that he was not aware if employees from Google had visited the site.
The Loon balloon crash was first reported last week by the Yakima Herald. A spokesman from the Federal Aviation Administration told the newspaper that the agency was contacted by Google regarding a descending Loon balloon. Google requested that the device be tracked by air traffic control so that aircraft can be steered away from it.
"Since launching Project Loon in New Zealand last year, we've continued to do research flights to improve the technology. We coordinate with local air traffic control authorities and have a team dedicated to recovering the balloons when they land," said Google in a statement.
Google deployed 30 Loon balloons over New Zealand upon the launch of the project. Positive results from initial testing made the company decide to expand its testing to the U.S.
The balloons involved in Project Loon are designed to fly at altitudes over 60,000 feet, which would put them above the area where commercial airplanes fly. Polyethylene plastic balloons, which have widths of about 45 feet, carry below them a set of solar panels and electronics for the balloon's functions.
Project Loon aims to provide connectivity to parts of the world that are not yet able to access the Internet. Google also reported that one of the project's trial balloons was able to travel around the world in just 22 days, when the company expected the trip to last 33 days. Google said that they are developing the balloons to be able to stay up in the atmosphere for over 100 days. However, the company noted that the balloon does eventually need to come back down to the surface, where they will be retrieved.
To further this connectivity ambition of Google, the company announced that it will invest an amount of between $1 billion to $3 billion in a fleet of 180 satellites. The company plans to launch these satellites into space with the similar goal of providing Internet connectivity to all parts of the world.