The Chinese surveillance balloon that was floating across the United States, with meteorologists monitoring its path, has been shot down by the U.S. government on February 4, 2023, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
The balloon was shot down on Saturday afternoon in the U.S. territorial waters off the coast of South Carolina, the U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III confirmed in a statement. The statement says the balloon was shot down at the orders of President Joe Biden once it was determined that the balloon would no longer pose a risk to people down below. See video of the moment the balloon was shot down here and here:
Before it was shot down, multiple meteorologists tweeted the projected balloon path; you can see many of the trackers throughout this article. The balloon ended up right where most of them predicted: off the coast of South Carolina.
“FYI, IF it can be raised and lowered, the track might vary quite a bit. It would have to be lowered into the commercial air lanes though to change it a lot,” tweeted meteorologist Dan Satterfield, one of the meteorologists who was tracking the balloon.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Chinese Surveillance Balloon Was Shot Down After It Was Determined There Was No Longer ‘Undue Risk to American Lives,’ the Government Says
“The balloon, which was being used by the PRC in an attempt to surveil strategic sites in the continental United States, was brought down above U.S. territorial waters,” the Department of Defense statement says.
According to the statement, President Joe Biden, on Wednesday, February 1, 2023, “gave his authorization to take down the surveillance balloon as soon as the mission could be accomplished without undue risk to American lives under the balloon’s path.”
Most trackers that mapped the balloon had it heading through the Midwest and then to the southern eastern seaboard.
Meteorologist Ryan Truchelut also created trackers to predict the balloon’s path.
“Future BALLOON trajectory highly dependent on altitude, which is unknown. At 15km (L), BALLOON races east out-to-sea. At 20km (C), heads towards Southeast coast. At 25km (R), hooks back west,” he tweeted.
“Also, these assume BALLOON is a passive tracer, not being controlled (or ‘derelict’),” he wrote.
WRTV’s John Dissauer tweeted on the evening of February 3, 2023, “The projected path of a parcel of air at 60,000 feet from near Paducah, KY earlier this evening. In theory this is the approximate path of the Chinese surveillance balloon. Looks like it should be out to see between 10am and 12pm Saturday.”
The Chinese Surveillance Balloon Moved From Montana Through the Midwest, Reports Say
According to CBS News, by the morning of February 3, 2023, the balloon had moved out of Montana and was “over the Midwest.” It’s the first time a Chinese balloon floated over the middle of the United States, CBS reported.
NPR reported that the Chinese government claims the balloon is for research purposes and “accidentally went off course.” According to NPR, the U.S. Department of Defense believes the balloon was used as “surveillance.”
According to The Associated Press, Secretary of State Antony Blinken “abruptly canceled a high-stakes Beijing trip aimed at easing U.S.-China tensions” as the balloon floated through U.S. airspace.
After flying over Montana, the balloon “headed southeastward over Kansas and Missouri at 60,000 feet (18,300 meters),” according to AP.
Maps Correctly Predicted That the Chinese Surveillance Balloon Would End up Over South Carolina
This tracker predicted the balloon would move from Montana through a tiny piece of Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Missouri, southern Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and South Carolina.
Other people tracked jets they believed were monitoring the balloon.
Mike Maze, a meteorologist with WRAL-TV tweeted a tracker that shows the balloon was spotted in Missouri and was headed to North Carolina.
At 11:31 a.m. on February 3, 2023, the National Weather Service’s Kansas City station tweeted, “We have had several reports across northwest MO of a large balloon visible on the horizon. It is now visible from our office in Pleasant Hill and the KC Metro. We have confirmed that it is not an NWS weather balloon.”
A North Carolina Police Department asked people not to shoot at the balloon but then deleted its post on Facebook.
“We now assess it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” Pentagon Press Secretary Pat Ryder told AP, which added that a second balloon was seen over Latin America. The balloon was the size of three buses and, if shot down over land, its debris could injure people on the ground, which is why the U.S. government held off doing so at first, AP reported.
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