[Originally posted to LinkedIn on 10/4/2021, migrated to DocBug 2/10/2022.]
When we started Loon we had no idea whether delivering wireless internet via long-lived high-altitude balloons was even possible, much less as a sustainable business model. No one had ever done it before, and there was no road map or guide book. So we consulted with whatever experts we could find, collected what data we could, and made our best guess. Often our first (and second and third) ideas didn’t work, but with each iteration we learned something new that brought us a little further.
I’m happy to say that those lessons will now live on past the end of Loon. Today we (collectively) announced The Loon Collection: a compendium of specifications, algorithms, design documents, raw data and lessons learned over the project’s ten years. The collection includes a 437-page PDF book documenting key lessons that we learned the hard way, which we hope can act as a mini-guide to all who come after us. We’re also making available the telemetry and sensor data from all 2,131 of our flights, comprising over 127 million samples (over 218 flight-years of data, mostly from 15 to 20 km above sea level). We hope that this data will be of use to meteorologists, climate scientists and other researchers studying the stratosphere, especially those that develop the forecast models that were so vital for our planning algorithms.