Billings, Montana resident Chase Doak recorded this video of the suspected Chinese spy balloon floating over the US this week. From CNN:
On Friday, Beijing claimed the balloon was a "civilian airship" used mainly for weather research that deviated from its planned course. The statement, by a spokeperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, is the first admission that the airship originated in China since the Pentagon revealed it was tracking the balloon on Thursday[…]
"They could be scooping up signals intelligence, in other words, they're looking at our cell phone traffic, our radio traffic," [Retired US Air Force Col. Cedric Leighton told CNN].
Intelligence data collected by the balloon could be relayed in real time via a satellite link back to China, Layton said.
Analysts also noted that Montana and nearby states are home to US intercontinental ballistic missile silos and strategic bomber bases.
US officials say they have taken actions to ensure the balloon cannot collect any sensitive data. They decided against shooting it down because of the risk to lives and property by falling debris.