Manufacturing Minute: Building Stronger Stratosphere-Bound Balloons

In this episode, bringing stratospheric conditions down to Earth.

In this episode, bringing stratospheric conditions down to Earth. This is your Manufacturing Minute.

Google’s Project Loon is aimed at providing Internet service to remote areas via stratospheric balloon.

Flying about 65,000 feet above Earth, the balloons encounter temperatures as low as -80 degrees Fahrenheit, very thin atmosphere and low air pressure.

The light-but-tough balloon material is a high-density polyethylene, similar to the plastic that holds your Cheerios, according to

For real-time testing of the materials and design, Google decided to bring the stratosphere down to Earth.

In a climatic lab, researchers captured images of which areas of the balloon undergo the most stress during dramatic temperature changes. To relieve those stressed areas, Google slightly altered the balloon’s dimensions.

Researchers also slow-motion captured a balloon explosion to see which areas were the first to give out. Those areas, typically seals, were then reinforced.

So, What Do You Think?

Should more manufacturers have access to this type of testing? What other products would benefit from climatic testing?

Email us or leave your comments below.

That’s all the time we have for today, but tune in every weekday for your next Manufacturing Minute.