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The U.S. military is testing surveillance balloons using radar and possibly video to track cars

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Six states will act as a testing ground for a new wave of balloon-based surveillance beacons which are backed by the U.S. military. Documents filed with the FCC and obtained by The Guardian detail an initiative to launch up to 25 unmanned solar balloons that will rove 250 miles across the central U.S. According to the documents, they will '[c]onduct high altitude... tests over South Dakota to provide a persistent surveillance system to locate and deter narcotic trafficking and homeland security threats.' Tests will be conducted by US Southern Command (Southcom), an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense. The Guardian reports that balloons are equipped with sensitive radar technology capable of tracking vehicles through inclement weather and during both day and night. According to the report, one radar device is capable of capturing the motion of every car in a 25-mile radius. The breadth of the surveillance will allow the military to track where vehicles come from, essentially'rewinding the tape' on people's movements according to one expert interview by the outlet.


Spy balloons flying 40km up track drug smugglers on the ground

New Scientist

High-altitude balloons called Stratollites might soon be giving the US military and NASA permanent and relatively low-cost eyes in the sky wherever they want. Developed by US firm World View, Stratollites are uncrewed, hydrogen- or helium-filled balloons that tour the stratosphere at heights of between 10 and 46 kilometres. As the stratosphere is layered with winds blowing in different directions, a Stratollite's path The balloons are controlled remotely from the ground. World View has used dozens of flights to refine the computer models and algorithms used to navigate the balloons. Along the way, the company claims to have carried out the biggest controlled altitude-change manoeuvre ever by a balloon, switching nearly 8 kilometres in one sweep.


Spy balloons that fly 40km up track drug dealers on the ground

New Scientist

High-altitude balloons called Stratollites might soon be giving the US military and NASA permanent and relatively low-cost eyes in the sky wherever they want. Developed by US firm World View, Stratollites are uncrewed, hydrogen-filled balloons that tour the stratosphere at heights of between 10 and 46 kilometres. As the stratosphere is layered with winds blowing in different directions, a Stratollite's path The balloons are controlled remotely from the ground. World View has used dozens of flights to refine the computer models and algorithms used to navigate the balloons. Along the way, the company claims to have carried out the biggest controlled altitude-change manoeuvre ever by a balloon, switching nearly 8 kilometres in one sweep.


Giant Surveillance Balloons Are Lurking at the Edge of Space

#artificialintelligence

It's a brisk December morning at Spaceport Tucson, America's premiere (only?) dedicated launch pad for stratospheric balloons, and a small army of technicians in reflective vests is milling around on the concrete and dethawing after a long, cold night. Nearby, a white metal tripod the size of a smart car is tethered to two dozen solar panels and hundreds of feet of clear plastic that stretches across the pad. This alien-looking contraption is referred to as a "stratollite," a portmanteau of "stratospheric satellite," operated by a company called World View Enterprises. It's a finely honed surveillance device outfitted with a suite of sensors and a camera sensitive enough to detect people standing on the ground from the edge of space. The stratollite travels by virtue of two balloons, one filled with helium to provide lift, and the other with pressurized air, which functions as a steering system.


Jane Poynter wants to send you to the edge of space in a very big balloon

Popular Science

Nothing draws attention to your new product like using it to send fast food into space. In June, Arizona-based World View demonstrated the potential of its pioneering stratollite--a sort of mini satellite that uses a high-altitude balloon to take payloads into the stratosphere--by partnering with KFC to ferry a 5-ounce piece of fried fowl 77,000 feet into the desert sky. "We took a frail chicken sandwich, launched it into space for 17 hours, and when it came back, it was perfect," says World View CEO Jane Poynter.