The backroom conversations and classified files of Foreign Ministries and Departments of State must be a wonderland of speculations and conditionals, of grand schemes and short-term crises. But, judging by the utterances of two former Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Poland’s Ministry is up there with the best of them.
[H]e negotiated and signed the Poland-Russia regional visa-free regime, Poland-U.S. missile defense agreement, and—together with foreign ministers of Germany and France—the accord between the pro-EU opposition and Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych in 2013.
You will remember THE Chinese Spy Balloon. The big white one with the dangly bits. It was a remarkably capable balloon, as you would expect from a spy balloon.
One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the balloon was able to linger in the winds over specific areas. “We saw it do that. It loitered over certain sites. It went left, right. We saw it maneuver inside the jet stream. That’s how it was operating,” the official said, adding that the craft had propellers and rudders.
[I]mages of the latest balloon [were] captured by photographers on the ground with telephoto zoom lenses…Such long-distance visual evidence contrasted with remarks by John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman. “It had propellers,” Kirby says. “It had a rudder, if you will, to allow it to change direction.” Civilian photos provided no signs of a rudder aboard the balloon, and it is not clear how such a control surface would help steer a spherical, slow-speed object. Kirby also may have been speaking metaphorically about a rudder.
Not quite a Chinese Spy Balloon (hereafter CSB), but a very good illustration of the principles involved in this kind of spying.
It’s a product of the Google Loon project, development of which commenced in 2011 as a cheap alternative to satellites to provide worldwide internet connectivity by using balloons. (I’ll refer to the balloons as “Loons.”) This is a longer video about Loon, but the principle of navigating balloons is explained from 3:57 through to 4:59. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t get it to stop automatically.) It uses a ballonet, a ballon within a balloon. Air is pumped into or evacuated from the ballonet, changing the buoyancy of the system, and giving it the capability to rise or fall. The Wikipedia entry gives an altitude range of 18km to 25km, or from about 60,000ft to 80,000ft. Because of the often extreme variation of wind speed and direction at different altitudes, the direction and speed of drift can be controlled to some extent.