One of Alphabet’s most ambitious projects isn’t a literal “moonshot,” but it’s close.
Project Loon, a part of the Google X research division, aims to spread broadband internet access with high-flying balloons. Now it’s got a new leader — one who has commercial experience, moving the project away from its skunkworks roots.
Tom Moore, who previously co-founded WildBlue Communications, will head up Project Loon, Bloomberg’s Brad Stone reported on Tuesday.
He’s replacing Mike Cassidy, the project’s leader since 2012, who will be staying on at Google X to do different projects.
The move signals that the company is getting closer to rolling Loon out as a commercial project.
Project Loon is still in testing, although Google-parent company Alphabet has previously announced partnerships with telecommunications carriers in Indonesia.
Alphabet told Bloomberg that its balloons had travelled over 17 million kilometers — the same stat it shared in October 2015.
Google X head Astro Teller said about the change in a statement:
“Under Mike’s scrappy, entrepreneurial leadership, Loon moved from science project to viable venture, and Tom’s valuable industry experience will help launch us into the commercial stage of this moonshot.”
The technology is undeniably cool, though. According to Google, it can launch a balloon every 30 minutes from a launchpad in Puerto Rico. And Business Insider has previously reported that Alphabet could be planning to expand testing of the balloons across the US.
Here’s an up close look at Project Loon that Alphabet published earlier this year:
The launchpad is called Chicken Little.
Workers in the aircraft hangar getting ready for launch.
The balloons fly 20km in the air — that’s the stratosphere.
The balloon getting ready for launch.
The launching “perch” mechanism.
The post Google X’s internet balloons have a new boss to bring the tech to market appeared first on Business Insider.