Editor’s note: This blog was originally published by the Loon team on March 23, 2020. In 2021, Loon's journey came to an end. The Loon team have shared their flight data and technical, operational and scientific insights in The Loon Collection to support the next generation of stratospheric innovation. Thank you to everyone who supported the Loon team along the way.
The Kenyan government has given formal approval for Loon’s balloons to operate in the stratosphere above the country. This is a critical step in our efforts to provide service in Kenya on a sustained basis, and we’re grateful to our partner, Telkom Kenya, and the Kenyan government for their support.
In the immediate term, this means that we will begin dispatching existing airborne balloons, as well as preparing new ones to launch from our launch sites in the United States, and navigating them to Kenya on the stratospheric winds 20km above Earth. This process takes time, and we expect it to be a number of weeks before Loon’s balloons arrive in Kenya. Once there, we will conduct the final stages of network integration testing with Telkom Kenya. Following that, we will be able to begin providing service to Kenyans.
Loon’s deployment in Kenya has been in the works since we signed a contract with Telkom Kenya in July 2018. Since then, we’ve been collaborating with both Telkom and the government to prepare for these operations. Given the global situation with COVID-19, we’re working as fast as we can to deploy the Loon service in Kenya to help in the short-term, and establish sustainable operations that will continue to serve Kenyans for the long-term.
Like many businesses big and small, Loon’s operations have seen some impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the short term we have reduced operational capacity at our launch sites, and necessary travel restrictions have impacted our ability to conduct business as usual. With the groundwork we have already laid in Kenya, however, we’re confident that we can address these challenges and begin providing meaningful service to Kenyans in the near future.