Video of the suspected Chinese spy balloon (aka "civilian airship") floating over Montana

I’m more inclined to think they want to capture it in-tact and analyze the equipment on it, figure out what it may be doing and what info it might have collected.

Much harder to do with tiny pieces scattered across many miles.


Dubious excuse, for sure. Have you seen eastern Montana? For that matter, most of Montana? Short of trying to drop it on someone or something, the chances of causing damage are pretty small.


I’m sure that the “civilian airship” has anti-tamper mechanisms built into any surveillance equipment that may have mysteriously found its way aboard. It could be as simple as a thermite bomb with a barometric trigger, so that if it drops below a certain altitude everything melts.

The reports I’ve seen suggested that the authorities thought it would actually be less effective for intelligence gathering than a spy satellite, but I guess it depends what intelligence it’s gathering. Or if it’s just intended to see how the US reacts to an ambiguously hostile act.


“They could be scooping up signals intelligence, in other words, they’re looking at our cell phone traffic, our radio traffic,” [Retired US Air Force Col. Cedric Leighton told CNN].



I believe they stopped being secret in the mid '80s as part of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT Treaty).

That’s why all those B-52s got chopped up in plain sight of any passing satellites and also why the US built highly visible missile bases with closed circuit train lines that passed between the missile hangars (if that’s the right word) on a very dispersed missile base.

The trains would transport a missile between hangars in a perpetual sort of three-cup game and although the satellites passing over the base knew there was a missile on the base somewhere, they would never know if it was on the train being moved, or which hangar it might be residing in.

So to be assured of destroying the missile, the Soviets would have to nuke all the hangars and presumably the train using maybe a dozen missiles.

The whole Mutually Assured Destruction thing was high-functioning fucking crazy…


BTW, has anyone seen Richard Branson recently?

Richard Branson Balloon


We’ve got secret Chinese police stations here, harassing Chinese citizens on a visa, or extended stays… or even suggesting family back home is in peril if you continue to write/protest/speak in this country against China.

Instead of looking up, look around.


Looney Tunes Animation GIF


My sarcasm filter may be on the blink, but the reason the Google Loony balloon looks different is that photo was taken just after launch. The balloon envelope is intentionally partly inflated as the gas inside will expand at higher altitude. It wouldn’t be fully inflated until it reaches operating altitude. The only real difference is that Google is allowed to spy anywhere they want to :rofl:


Asking for a friend: If an Amazon delivery drone were to “accidentally” fly into and deflate this thing, would Amazon stock go up or down?


that makes perfect sense, thanks for the explanation!

( in the mirror universe, my doppelganger is an aeronaut. i have not been so lucky. :balloon: )

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This could also be something we just said so that China doesn’t think we’re investigating it deeper. We may have found all kinds of things out that we don’t want to let them know we’ve found. The fact that we’re not shooting it down over the emptiest areas of the United States because “we don’t want it to hurt people when it comes down” is a pretty tacit admission to me that we’re not shooting it down for some other reason.


So at least it’s confirmed it’s Chinese.

I also thought, why isn’t this just a weather balloon that got blown around? What happens to weather balloons usually? That seems a lot simpler than other explanations. What even is a spy balloon? Maybe it’s what the Empire sent to Hoth?


And it’s been shot down


Awkward Kenan Thompson GIF by Saturday Night Live

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the balloon—believed to be the size of three buses floating at roughly 60,000 feet

Once it left US airspace, the balloon suddenly switched to a volume of about 200 cubic meters at an altitude of roughly 18,300 meters


From Time

A typical weather balloon grows in size as it ascends through the atmosphere, starting off at about six feet wide, and expanding to roughly 20 feet in diameter as it rises. The Chinese balloon clocks in at around 90 feet wide, or the length of three buses, according to U.S. defense officials.

OK, so we know it wasn’t meant as a volume measurement. And they do expand (volumetrically speaking) a hundred fold at altitude.

Still, I think the comparison is misleading because schoolbuses aren’t shaped the same as balloons, and the volume vs length problem was mentioned in “how to lie with statistics”

What really matters is the mass of the payload, the altitude of the balloon, and the mission duration.


I assumed it was a volume measurement

The size of three buses


MAGA’s next campaign: Build the extendable border swatters!