When we talk about firmament saturation, we usually think of the phenomenon of space debris and even the growing industry of commercial flights, but there is more. Every day more than 2,000 aerostats worldwide and, according to the US National Weather Service, some 1,800 correspond to atmospheric sounding balloons.
These numbers, coupled with expert perspective, can help us better understand the case of detected and downed flying objects in North America. According to the national security correspondent for the US network CBSDavid Martin, we must keep in mind the “sky junk”, something like space junk, but at a lower altitude.
The mystery of the balloons
Sky debris includes flying objects found within the stratosphere, specifically at an altitude between 8,000 and 40,000 meters above the ground. According to Martin, in that range we can find from balloons owned by the government to others from private companies, institutes and private individuals. In general, according to the expert, these are used for scientific tasks.
Like the Starlink satellites in orbit, Google’s failed Loon project is an example of objects sent into the stratosphere by private companies. The Mountain View giant launched a large number of balloons over several years whose average diameter when operational was 40 feet, according to manufacturer Raven Aerostar. In other words, they were like floating four-story buildings to provide Internet to rural areas.
According to The Guardian, in the case of the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recognizes that these objects can present risks to commercial aviationTherefore, for a long time, long before the subject of the supposed Chinese spy balloon came to light, it has regulated this practice. If you want to launch a balloon, you must meet a series of requirements, including providing a flight path to reduce the risk of collision.
downing of the chinese balloon
In addition, there are stipulated operating altitudes for each type of aircraft. Helicopters fly at an altitude of 4,500 meters, commercial planes at 12,000 meters and balloons above 20,000 meters. But, if this practice has been around for a long time, why are we now detecting more balloons? According to Martin, in agreement with what we published recently, Washington is now more attentive to what is happening in the sky.
“In the past, the US has simply not paid much attention to those balloons, but these Chinese balloons were a game changer,” says the expert. Specifically, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) adjusted its radar system to make it more sensitive. The consequence? More objects are being found, a reason that could have led to the detection and subsequent shooting down by Sidewinder missiles of the last three flying objects.
It should be noted that all the flying objects shot down this month, with the exception of the Chinese balloon, have not been identified. The Biden administration has been very cautious in specifying its nature, although some astrophysicists believe it could be balloons. According to an alleged recording of communications from the Lake Huron shootdown broadcast by The Drive, the object was the size of a car, moved slowly and reflected light.
Images: Raven Aerostar
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