Sioux Falls, SD (August 07, 2014) — Raven Aerostar (NASDAQ: RAVN) marked its one-year anniversary of Google’s Project Loon public unveiling with an impressive milestone accomplishment; a Raven Aerostar balloon surpassed 120 days of flight in the stratosphere. This Loon Balloon, named Ibis 152, was launched from New Zealand on February 26 and fully circled the earth twice.
Last summer, Raven Aerostar was cited as Google’s balloon design partner and manufacturer when Google announced its audacious Google[x] moonshot, Project Loon, designed to provide wireless internet access to millions of unconnected people worldwide, particularly in remote and underserved areas. The project—which uses Raven Aerostar high altitude balloons—has the potential to enrich millions of lives by delivering access to invaluable information. The milestone of achieving a duration of over 120 days proves Loon Balloons are able to reliably survive the harsh elements of the stratosphere for days, weeks and now even months.
“As Google’s balloon provider, Raven Aerostar has been instrumental in bringing Project Loon to the skies,” stated Lon Stroschein, Raven Aerostar General Manager and Vice President. “Reliability is critical to the Project Loon mission, and with over 60 years of experience placing payloads safely into the stratosphere, Raven Aerostar is continuing to push the envelope forward on stratospheric flight by leaps and bounds."
Loon Balloons have traveled over a million and a half kilometers, allowing Raven Aerostar’s knowledge and expertise to propel super pressure ballooning technology forward exponentially. “It is a very exciting time for the lighter-than-air (LTA) community, and we are proud to be pioneering advances in stratospheric flight,” commented Stroschein.
Google’s Project Loon also successfully delivered connectivity through a recent demonstration in Agua Fria, Brazil. Over 100 million people in Brazil are not currently connected to the internet; however, this demonstration proved to the overjoyed students and teachers of the Linoca Gayoso School that wireless internet can be achieved using balloons. Previously, sustained connections have been unsuccessful due to obstacles such as mountains and clouds, but because the Loon Balloons carry Google’s technology high above, the community enjoyed wireless internet from the comfort of their classroom.
“Our first observation when we encounter such a rural area is that their world, contrary to what we might have thought, isn’t that small. However, it can be expanded through technology,” says Silvana Pereira, Principal at Linoca Gayoso School in a video released by Google.
Raven Aerostar has been working with Google since 2012, developing new balloon designs for Loon’s mission. Balloon customization is familiar to Raven Aerostar and has been common practice for customers, including NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the United States Air Force. The balloons designed for Loon are highly customized Raven Aerostar super pressure balloons and are designed to carry specific payloads to an exact altitude determined by Google. The super pressure balloons Raven Aerostar has engineered for Google have dual chambers that give the balloon several kilometers of altitude control. Altitude control enables the balloons to use different wind patterns at different altitudes, giving Google the ability to “steer” the balloon.
“The idea of maneuvering balloons through the stratosphere by using wind currents is unique to Project Loon,” explained Scott Wickersham, Raven Aerostar’s Director of Product Development. “Raven Aerostar, however, is not new to station-keeping technology.” Raven Aerostar has achieved propelled balloon flight with unmanned airships in the stratosphere, most recently in 2008 and 2010.
“With years of LTA experience, through our involvement in Google’s Project Loon, and with these groundbreaking advances, we are validating new approaches and revolutionizing ballooning technology. There is simply no end to what the technology can accomplish,” says Stroschein. “Due to thousands of flight hours, made possible through the Project Loon mission, Raven Aerostar has achieved numerous balloon performance advancements otherwise thought impossible.”
ABOUT RAVEN AEROSTAR
Raven Aerostar consists of wholly owned subsidiaries Aerostar International, Inc. and Vista Research, Inc. Raven Aerostar is a world leader in the design and manufacture of highly technical aerospace, surveillance technology, navigation aids and specialty sewn products. Both Raven Aerostar and Raven Industries, Inc. are based in Sioux Falls, SD. The company has a rich history solving great challenges and delivering life-saving solutions through its advanced solutions; in addition to stratospheric balloons, Raven Aerostar designs and manufactures tethered aerostats and persistent surveillance solutions, Vista radar solutions, marine navigation aids and protective wear. Raven Aerostar is committed to providing highly technical and groundbreaking technology for critical missions that can change the world.
ABOUT RAVEN INDUSTRIES, INC
Since 1956, Raven Industries has designed and manufactured high quality, high-value technical products. Raven is publicly traded on NASDAQ (RAVN) and has earned an international reputation for innovation, product quality, high performance, and unmatched service. Raven’s purpose is to solve great challenges in areas of safety, feeding the world, energy independence and resource preservation. To realize this purpose, we utilize our strengths in engineering, manufacturing and technological innovation to serve the precision agriculture, high performance specialty films, aerospace, and defense markets. Visit www.RavenInd.com for more information.
This news release contains “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including statements regarding the expectations, beliefs, intentions or strategies regarding the future. Without limiting the foregoing, the words “anticipates,” “believes,” “expects,” “intends,” “may,” “plans,” and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. The company intends that all forward-looking statements be subject to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. Although management believes that the expectations reflected in forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance these assumptions are correct or that these expectations will be achieved. Assumptions involve important risks and uncertainties that could significantly affect results in the future. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, those relating to developing a technologically effective, environmentally sound, cost efficient solution to deliver electronics equipment to the stratosphere according to customer requirements, success of our customer’s initiatives to effectively network the balloons and connect to the Internet, development of competitive technologies to balloons, startup of large-scale balloon production without negatively impacting quality and cost, and ability to finance investment and working capital needs in excess of current credit facilities as well as other risks described in the company’s 10-K under Item 1A. This list is not exhaustive, and the company does not have an obligation to revise any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date these statements are made.