Alphabet's Project Loon just passed a big test in its plan to beam internet to Earth from giant balloons, successfully pinging data across a 1,000-kilometer span.
Project Loon makes internet-delivery balloons to provide access in remote locations, and "graduated" from Alphabet's X research division to become its own independent business in July. The balloons rally a single connection from a ground-level link from one balloon to the next, while moving and diverging.
The 1,000-km, six-balloon feat is one of the venture's longest links to date, the company said in a blog post.
"The thing about people is that they tend to live all over the place," the company said. "If we can extend our reach by passing that connection across a network of balloons, like a cosmic soccer team advancing the ball through the sky, we can cover far more people."
Project Loon plans to launch commercial service next year.