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Project Loon balloon crashes in South Africa

Another one of Google’s Project Loon balloons, which are designed to bring the internet to remote corners of the globe, has come to an unfortunate end and crashed down to Earth unexpectedly.

According to the South African paper Beeld (via Business Insider), a farmer in the Karoo region found the crashed balloon, although he wasn’t aware it was a Project Loon escapee, and instead figured it was some kind of weather balloon.

Until other family members spotted the Google X branding on the Loon, and sent the images to Mountain View – who then confirmed it looked like one of their balloons, and that someone from Google would be over to collect what was left.

It certainly isn’t the first time we’ve witnessed a crash from Project Loon, and indeed there was a major incident back in the summer in New Zealand, where a Loon was misidentified as a sinking light aircraft when spotted over the sea near Christchurch on the south island. An emergency helicopter was called out on that occasion, unfortunately.

Just this week, however, Google has been boasting about how it can now more accurately navigate the balloons to their target destination, to within 1.5km during a flight of 9,000km in one case. As they become more sophisticated, we should see less ditched Loons – which is probably just as well seeing as Google has now cranked Project Loon up to launch some 20 balloons per day.