The U.S. Military Is Monitoring Another High-Altitude Balloon

It seems almost too comical to be true, but this is the world we live in. One year after the U.S. shot down a Chinese spy balloon that ignited a national frenzy, the military has spotted another balloon in American skies.

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Officials are tracking a high-altitude balloon flying over the Western U.S., CBS News reported on Friday afternoon. Earlier in the day, the balloon was allegedly flying over Colorado and sparked concern among military officials. The military sent personnel to inspect the balloon and concluded that it was not a threat, the outlet stated, although its origin and purpose are still unknown.

A spokesperson with the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, confirmed to Gizmodo that the military had detected a “small balloon” at an altitude varying between 43,000-45,000 feet (13,100-13,700 meters).

“The balloon was intercepted by NORAD fighters over Utah, who determined it was not maneuverable and did not present a threat to national security. NORAD will continue to track and monitor the balloon,” U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Benjamin Wiseman said in an email. “The FAA also determined the balloon posed no hazard to flight safety. NORAD remains in close coordination with the FAA to ensure flight safety.”

As of publication, there aren’t any public photos of this recent balloon, which some reports say appears to be made of Mylar and have a small box hanging underneath it. The balloon is purportedly drifting east in the jetstream and is expected to fly over Georgia on Friday night, according to CBS News.

Back in February 2023, the Chinese spy balloon debacle caused havoc in the U.S. and immediately spurred calls from Republicans for the Biden administration to shoot it down. The balloon caused a diplomatic crisis, despite claims from Chinese officials that the balloon was not a spy and that it was actually a civilian project for meteorological research. In fact, the balloon had entered the U.S. by accident, Chinese officials claimed.

“The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into U.S. airspace due to force majeure,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement at that time.

Officials in the U.S. weren’t convinced, stating that the balloon was able to collect communications via satellite and had “multiple antennas.” It also had other equipment “clearly for intelligence surveillance.”

President Joe Biden eventually gave the order to shoot down the Chinese spy balloon using Air Force fighter jets while the balloon was flying over the Carolina coastline.