For all intents and purposes, if something moves and isn't a projectile weapon or crash test car, it's generally not meant to crash into things, get crashed into or otherwise suffer or cause damage. That's exactly what a Project Loon balloon did on Saturday in Chile. The balloon, having degraded throughout its flight period to the point that it was ready to be retired, met its end in a farmer's field near the Los Angeles area of Chile. Naturally, a strange object rife with technology got the authorities' attention and the farm was cordoned off pending investigation by the police, an investigative team and Chile's local aviation authority. Google reached out to Chilean authorities to assure them that the balloon was not dangerous and warranted no investigation. They also told them that the crumpled heap of tech they were probing at was everything that a Loon node should aspire to be.
According to Google, Project Loon rigs are meant to last 100 days, give or take. When they've reached that ripe old age, it's risky to keep them aloft because they may catastrophically fail at any moment from a number of factors, be it rips in the balloon itself, the balloon becoming permeable from being stretched so long, or the strings and such holding the internet equipment breaking. All of this could lead to a balloon or its gear making a sudden and violent landing in a completely random spot, where a civilian or property could be.
Because of this factor, Google decommissions the balloons and brings them to ground long before they become dangerous. This was the case with this particular balloon, according to Google. When a balloon is set to go somewhat far from its launch center or Mountain View, Google normally can't deliver internet for a substantial enough time to warrant sending the balloon out at all if they have to bring it home before it goes out of service. Instead, a team remotely guides the balloons down to a safe landing area. In this instance, that's exactly what happened – no living creatures or property were harmed and the balloon came down gently. In the future, however, Google may consider having a balloon's control team warn local authorities before it brings down a balloon.