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A Second Google Internet Balloon Drifts Off, Crashes In Congo

Photos and videos of what is believed to be a wrecked Google Balloon have emerged on social media. The Balloon is said to have fallen near the town of Buta, close to Kisangani, in Bas-Uele, Congo.

Panafrican Techologist, Kambale from The Congo reported on his twitter handle that an unidentified flying object that looked like communication equipment had fallen. On closer inspection by other netizens, the object was confirmed to be a Google Balloon with flight number HBAL166 assigned to Kenya’s Project Loon operation. The Balloon fell and crashed in Congo, over 1600 Kilometers from Kenya.

Reports indicate that the Balloon, along with two others, was launched in April 23, 2020 from Celba, Puerto Rico and had remained in flight for a total of 123 days after traveling 129,000 kilometers.

In May, KahawaTungu reported that the first balloon with flight number HBAL 131 had fallen off the skies. The Balloon was one of the three launched in Puerto Rico that experienced technical problems as the other two drifted towards the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Read: Scare as Google Internet Balloon Fall From the Sky into a Kenyan Village

According to sources within Kenya’s aviation sector, the 130 Kilograms’ internet balloons filled with helium gas came tumbling down after what is now believed to be a technical error in the pump system.

The balloons under Project Loons are expected to have a lifespan of 180 days as the polythene balloons get degraded with time. They land back in a controlled descent at speeds of 12 kilometres per hour.

Apart from the polythene balloons, the flight equipment is composed of antennas, solar panels, flight capsule which is composed of all the electronics and a parachute to guide the descent. They travel up to 20 kilometres above the earth surface using autonomous navigation.

Project loon was inaugurated in April by President Uhuru Kenyatta  following a partnership between Google and Telkom to provide internet to Kenya’s remote areas

Neither Google nor Telkom have issued commented on the crashed balloons.

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