world news Just How Big Was That Chinese Spy Balloon? The Defense Department offered some important details about the mysterious vessel. YouTube screenshot/THV11
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News outlets and political pundits have been preoccupied with updates about an apparent Chinese spy balloon shot down by the U.S. military just off of the East Coast over the weekend — but there are a lot of details that weren’t initially available.

As for its size, however, the Defense Department was able to offer some clarity this week.

Taller than the Statue of Liberty

While casual observers of the news might wonder why a balloon was such a big deal, it’s important to note the enormous size of this unnamed airship.

According to officials, the massive balloon was estimated to have been as tall as 200 feet, which means it would have towered over the Statue of Liberty if placed side by side.

Gen. Glen VanHerck, who leads the North American Aerospace Defense Comand and U.S. Northern Command, said that the vessel “probably weighed in excess of a couple thousand pounds,” citing its size as the primary reason that authorities decided to wait until it was no longer over the ground before shooting to down.

The trail of debris it left off the coast of South Carolina, he said, measured “more than 15 football fields by 15 football fields.”

Packing a potent payload

Although a comprehensive account of what was aboard the balloon hasn’t been released, officials say it was carrying a huge cache of surveillance equipment that took up the same amount of space as two or three school buses.

As VanHerck explained, it took a particularly powerful device to pop this particular balloon.

There was a warhead in the missile,” he confirmed. “You can see that explosion on TV as it goes through the lower part of the balloon and right there through the superstructure.”

Chris Agee
Chris Agee February 8th, 2023
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