Internet balloon to be tested at Harbor Beach

A drone startup called Stark Drones is interested in hosting an event in Harbor Beach that would test out one of its internet balloons.

Harbor Beach City Council approved the event at its meeting this week, scheduled for 3-5 p.m. on June 18 at Lincoln Memorial Park in Harbor Beach. The event will be open to the public with the possibility of bringing in dishes, with a forecast of at least 50 people.

Andrew Nassief of Stark Drones emailed the town of Harbor Beach with his request in mid-May.

“The only commercial thing about the event is the launch plus a Stark Drones information and coupon package,” Nassief wrote in his email to Harbor Beach. “We don’t intend to really make any money from an event like this outside of what this demo may lead to, and we don’t like charging people to watch the experiences we do.”

The telemetry test would involve a tethered internet balloon with a diameter of between 15 and 27 feet, although it could be larger. The helium used to fill it would come locally and the balloon would be deflated once the experiment was over.

Internet balloons would have equipment on them to bring Internet access to rural areas that have gaps in Internet coverage. Google’s parent company had been trying to test the concept through a subsidiary for nine years, including in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria and in Kenya, before shutting it down in early 2021, reportedly due to commercial viability concerns.

Stark Drones is an avionics and research startup focused on new Moonshot technologies, working on underwater wireless networks, ocean sensors, beach water testing solutions, and motion capture techniques. carbon.

The event is planned to follow proper security protocols, with a designated area that attendees are not permitted to walk through and only designated individuals will be allowed to assist in setting it up. People who cause trouble will be asked to leave.

Nassief noted that there was a chance the experiment might fail, but the event should still be safe as long as people keep a respectful distance or don’t touch anything that doesn’t belong to them.

Nassief could not be reached for further information.