US Opts Not to Shoot New Balloon Out of Sky

But military is watching a new mystery object that drifted over Hawaii, is now headed to Mexico
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2023 7:21 AM CDT
Don't Look Now, but There's Another Balloon
A high-altitude balloon floats over Billings, Montana, on Feb. 1.   (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP, File)

After a mysterious spate of balloon sightings earlier this year, a new entry has made its way into the mix. NBC News reports that the US military has been tailing a new balloon since late last week that drifted over parts of Hawaii, though officials indicate it didn't fly over sensitive locations, and that it didn't appear to be a threat to national security or air traffic. It isn't readily apparent who the unmanned object, which the Defense Department and FAA first spotted on Friday, belongs to, though a DOD rep on Monday said it didn't seem to be from a "foreign or adversarial actor," per Politico.

That's why at this time, the military isn't shooting down the balloon floating at 36,000 feet, although one official tells NBC that could still happen if it gets near US soil again. Right now, it's heading in the direction of Mexico and is no longer over US territorial waters. A Chinese spy balloon was shot down off the coast of South Carolina in February, followed by the shooting down of three other mystery floating objects soon after. CBS News notes that after those other incidents, the DOD and FAA put in place new parameters for keeping tabs on US airspace, which is how they caught wind of the most recent balloon. (More balloon stories.)

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