Alphabet's plan to beam internet to Earth from balloons just passed a big milestone

Marty Melville | AFP | Getty Images
Visitors stand next to a high altitude WiFi internet hub, a Google Project Loon balloon, on display at the Air Force Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand, on June 16, 2013.

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.

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