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What we all know concerning the alleged Chinese language authorities spy balloon : NPR


A spy balloon from China has been inflicting alarm within the U.S. What’s it doing, and is it a menace to nationwide safety?



SCOTT DETROW, HOST:

The U.S. navy continues to observe what they are saying is a Chinese language surveillance balloon floating excessive over the nation.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PAT RYDER: Whereas we can’t get into specifics regarding the precise location, I can inform you that the balloon continues to maneuver eastward and is presently over the middle of the continental United States.

DETROW: That was Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder at a press briefing earlier immediately as he pushed again on China’s claims the balloon is just a meteorological civilian airship gone astray. NPR’s Geoff Brumfiel has extra on what the balloon may be as much as.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: In case you’re feeling confused by these experiences of a Chinese language spy balloon, you are not alone.

JAMES FLATEN: This can be a little bizarre.

BRUMFIEL: James Flaten works on the College of Minnesota flying analysis balloons for NASA. He says this balloon does appear like it is designed to remain aloft for lengthy intervals.

FLATEN: One factor you possibly can see on this {photograph} is that it clearly has photo voltaic panels. In different phrases, that is supposed to remain up for a very long time and have the ability to energy itself.

BRUMFIEL: The Pentagon says it is floating at 60,000 ft. That places it within the stratosphere. China says it is a meteorological analysis balloon that is wandered astray, however Flaten thinks it is too fancy for that.

FLATEN: If that is actually all you are focused on, climate, this isn’t the proper of balloon to do it. You need balloons which might be manner smaller, manner cheaper, and maybe far more frequent than this type of factor.

BRUMFIEL: Flaten says it’s doable that this balloon was launched from Chinese language soil and drifted hundreds of miles to america. In reality, adversaries have despatched balloons up to now.

FLATEN: Oddly sufficient, Japan throughout World Struggle II had a ballooning program and succeeded in getting some incendiary units delivered by balloon which landed in america.

BRUMFIEL: However they did not do a lot injury. They had been robust to manage and got here down in random spots. Which raises the plain query – if balloons did not work 80 years in the past, why use them now?

FLATEN: Why would any person hassle flying one thing on a balloon when you’ve satellites in place which could have even fancier gear?

BRUMFIEL: In reality, the Pentagon says it believes this spy balloon would not considerably enhance China’s means to assemble intelligence with its satellites.

JEFFREY LEWIS: I do not actually perceive what they’re doing right here.

BRUMFIEL: Jeffrey Lewis is a professor on the Middlebury Institute of Worldwide Research at Monterey. Lewis tracks nuclear weapons. And a few have speculated China could also be utilizing its balloon to float over delicate nuclear missile websites. He is skeptical. These missile bases are many years previous they usually’re already seen on Google Maps.

LEWIS: The situation of them is just not significantly secret. Their look is just not significantly secret.

BRUMFIEL: Lewis concedes that the Chinese language authorities could also be studying a little bit bit from its spy balloon, however he thinks it is not value blowing up delicate diplomatic ties with the U.S.

LEWIS: That balloon is a floating intelligence failure. And I hope it comes down.

BRUMFIEL: Geoff Brumfiel, NPR Information.

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NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This textual content might not be in its remaining kind and could also be up to date or revised sooner or later. Accuracy and availability might fluctuate. The authoritative document of NPR’s programming is the audio document.

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