Ross: Was it a Chinese spy balloon, or luxury space travel prototype?

Feb 3, 2023, 8:16 AM | Updated: 8:28 am


A high altitude balloon floats over Billings, Mont., on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. The U.S. is tracking a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that has been spotted over U.S. airspace for a couple days, but the Pentagon decided not to shoot it down due to risks of harm for people on the ground, officials said Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023. The Pentagon would not confirm that the balloon in the photo was the surveillance balloon. (Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP)

(Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette via AP)

The defense department says it has been tracking a huge Chinese balloon over Montana. There is some speculation it may be an experiment that was blown off-track, but there’s also speculation that it is a spy balloon.

The U.S. does have a missile base in Montana – and there are members of Congress who think the President should have ordered the balloon shot down.

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy – known for being tough on balloons – called it a brazen disregard of U.S. sovereignty.

But even that didn’t persuade the president to act.

What surprises me is that the Montana militia hasn’t shot it down yet.

But what could China possibly be up to?

I will say I’m a little disappointed, I thought China was using TikTok to spy on us. A balloon seems very last-century. Plus, our missile bases are no secret! Heck, we want the world to know about them!


It’s not a spy balloon at all but an attempt to exploit the latest trend in space tourism.

“You will rise, carried by decades of aerospace experience to the edge of space, a journey that will change you. Welcome aboard Space perspective.”

Last year a U.S. company called Space Perspective started selling seats aboard a tourist capsule.

“Instead of riding a rocket, this is a slow ride to the edge of space inside a pressurized capsule hanging beneath a massive helium balloon,” CNBC reported.

Passengers spend six hours floating 20 miles above the earth for the very affordable price of $125,000 a seat.

“It’s not space passengers won’t go weightless, but the view will be spectacular inside a first-class cabin complete with massive windows, Wi-Fi, even a bar, and restroom,” the report continued.

Space Perspective has sold more than 600 tickets so far and plans its first commercial launch from the Kennedy Space Center next year.

So I can’t be sure what China is up to with its balloon, but knowing how they took over the sneaker business and then the computer business, I suspect we’re going to see half-price luxury space rides from the “Great Wall Balloon Company” just in time for Christmas.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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