I had been thinking this was so stupid and kind of funny how with 222 people they can’t even agree that any one of them is fit for the role. But then I realized there was something I wasn’t thinking about:
The Speaker of the House is the second in line to the presidency, after Vice-President Kamala Harris.
Oh yeah, forgot about that. And here it is January 6th, the second anniversary of an attempted coup.
And they’re about to take their 12th vote. 12 inches in a foot, 12 hours in a day, 12 months in a year, and of course, 12 jurors in a trial. Q-anon people must just be going nuts over that. I think I just creeped myself out.
The true purpose of the balloon, be it this or something else, is not presently known. But again, given its large size, the balloon likely was not being used to gather meteorological data.
What other reason might a large balloon be in the stratosphere?
The obvious, and probably correct answer, is spying. China, of course, has excellent observation satellites in low-Earth orbit, just like the United States. However, Antonio said, stratospheric balloons have some key advantages. By raising and lowering itself in the atmosphere, a stratospheric balloon can maintain its position over an area for hours, days, or even weeks. This provides higher-resolution imagery, with a persistence that satellites cannot match, at a far lower price. Urban Sky, for example, is developing small stratospheric balloons that can be used to monitor the progress of wildfires and efforts to contain them.
So the Chinese launched this balloon to spy directly on the United States?
Probably not. The Chinese would have known that sending a clearly observable balloon into the US heartland would be a provocative action, and they are unlikely to have done so on purpose.
The most likely scenario, Antonio believes, is that the termination mechanism, which is used to bring down a balloon at the end of its desired flight time, failed. Typically a stratospheric balloon will have one or more backup termination mechanisms, but a technical problem would explain why a balloon launched in China days or weeks ago could have eventually drifted into the United States. (The Chinese government may not want to admit this technical failure publicly.) The prevailing currents in the stratosphere would appear to support this theory of a drifting balloon the Chinese government had lost control of.
They’ve got a point about China likely not wanting to admit a tech failure, especially if it’s actually a government device…