February 3, 2023: Suspected Chinese spy balloon flies over US (2023)

12:27 p.m. m. ET, February 4, 2023

Live coverage of the alleged Chinese spy balloonmove here.

00:03 Eastern Time, February 4, 2023

Biden is constantly being briefed on the alleged Chinese spy balloon

De Phil Mattingly de CNN

US President Joe Biden received constant information throughout the day about the suspected Chinese spy balloon hovering over the US, including calls with national security officials, according to a senior official.administration officer.

Another briefing was scheduled for when Biden arrived in Wilmington on Friday night.

The military options that President Biden called for early on have been maintained and updated as the situation has evolved, the official said, noting that no options have been taken off the table.

Why didn't the US shoot down the alleged spy balloon?Biden and national security team officials discussed options, including shooting down the balloon, the official said.

The military had previously advised against shooting down the balloon due to the risk of falling debris, but that could change as the balloon moves toward the East Coast.

The official said various options are being considered, but declined to detail what those options might include.

11:07 p.m. m. ET, February 3, 2023

The substructure below the alleged Chinese spy balloon measures approximately 90 feet

De Katie Bo Lillis, de CNN

The substructure beneath the alleged Chinese spy balloon, which authorities believe to be the surveillance and direction apparatus, is about 30 meters long, according to a defense official. That's about the length of three city buses.

The balloon carrying this substructure is significantly larger and taller, the source said.

Early Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said the balloon has a "great load under the surveillance component," likening it to a basket under an aircraft.

As for the size, Ryder said the balloon is big enough that officials are concerned about potential debris that could injure people on the ground if the United States shoots it down.

10:47 PM ET, February 3, 2023

Suspicious spy balloon may leave East Coast overnight

Dave Hennen de CNN, Katie Bo Lillis and Oren Liebermann

The suspected Chinese spy balloon could leave the US East Coast as early as Saturday morning, according to a NOAA weather model.

The latest projections show a path from Kentucky, Tennessee to North Carolina in the next 24 hours. Going by CNN's last known position of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, the current projection would show the balloon moving away from the coast near the Outer Banks sometime late afternoon or Saturday morning.

Two US defense officials also told CNN that the balloon is expected to reach the east coast and then move out to sea in the southeast near the Carolinas. One of the officials said it could leave the US East Coast on Saturday.

The NOAA meteorological model known as HYSPLIT is used to simulate the dispersion or trajectory of substances dispersed in the atmosphere.

10:01 PM ET, February 3, 2023

North Carolina Police Department urges residents not to shoot suspected spy balloon

De Paradise Afshar y Dianne Gallagher de CNN

The Gastonia, North Carolina Police Department is urging residents not to call the police if they see the suspected spy balloon, and to refrain from shooting it.

"If the now infamous Chinese 'weather balloon' passes over Gastonia, please do not call the police to report it."the department wrote on Facebook.

Police also reminded residents that they "don't have the ability to respond at an altitude of 60,000 feet to verify" and "we're pretty sure the feds would want us to stay out of it."

The department ended the post by urging residents "not to shoot her with their weapons in an attempt to bring her down on her own."

Gastonia is a city of more than 80,000 people, about 20 miles west of Charlotte.

Some context:OUS tracks alleged Chinese spy balloon, which was first seen in Montana and is believed to be moving eastward. CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray said late Friday that depending on the direction of the wind, it could end up in the Carolinas or Virginia within the next 24 hours.

10:04 PM ET, February 3, 2023

Suspected Spy Balloon Appears Heading for the Carolinas or Virginia, Depending on Wind Direction

The alleged Chinese spy balloon appears to be following the direction of the wind, according to CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray. In the next 24 hours, strong gusts are forecast to shift from west to east, which could send the balloon flying around the Carolinas or Virginia, she said.

After initially being seen in Montana, the balloon was last seen in Missouri.

"It would make you think it would veer in that direction," Gray told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Friday. He noted that forecasts should be taken "with a bit of caution, because winds can change speed dramatically with height. They can also change direction."

Gray said he predicts it will be hard for the balloon to end up in major cities in the Northeast if wind is the only factor bringing it down.

"We have this blast of extreme cold in the Northeast right now that drives the winds from north to south, so I think it would hold that trajectory going forward. Of course, there are a lot of things to consider," Gray said.

some background: Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. General Patrick Ryder said that the US Department of Defense.meet the globe"He has the ability to maneuver." Sources familiar with the matter previously told CNN that the balloon's motion depends primarily on the jet stream. Ryder added Friday that the balloon "changed course over and over again, which is why we're monitoring it."

Watch Jennifer Gray's report here:

9:16 p.m. m. ET, February 3, 2023

Chinese Foreign Ministry says balloon entering US airspace was an accident

CNN's Larry Register and Steven Jiang

The Chinese unmanned aircraft entering US airspace was "completely an accident caused by force majeure, and the facts are very clear," a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Saturday.

On Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that he would postpone his upcoming visit to China in response to the incident.

The Itamaraty spokesman said that maintaining "contact and communication at all levels" was an important consensus of the Bali meeting between the leaders of China and the United States, referring to themeeting of threebetween US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping in November.

The spokesman affirmed the Chinese narrative about the alleged spy balloon, saying the drone blimp strayed into US airspace "due to force majeure."

China has "verified and provided comments together with the United States," the spokesman said.

“The aircraft is of a civil nature and is used for scientific research such as meteorology. Affected by the westerly wind and with its own limited controllability, the aircraft seriously deviated from the intended route," the spokesperson said.

Repeating previous comments, the spokesperson added: “China has always strictly adhered to international law, respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, and has never intentionally and never violated the territory and airspace of any sovereign country. Some US politicians and media took advantage of the issue to attack and discredit China. China is strongly opposed to this."

Some background:The Pentagon categorically denied on FridayChinese government claimthat the balloon is for civilian investigative purposes, saying the United States knows it is a "surveillance balloon."

8:17 p.m. m. ET, February 3, 2023

Northern Command in coordination with NASA in the debris field if the balloon was shot down, an official says

By Haley Britzky of CNN

US Northern Command coordinated with NASA to determine what the debris field would be if the balloon floating over the United States were shot down, according to a defense official.

7:47 p.m. m. ET, February 3, 2023

Another Chinese spy balloon transits Latin America, Pentagon says

By Natasha Bertrand of CNN

The Pentagon said late Friday that another Chinese spy balloon is currently in transit in Latin America.

“We are seeing reports of a balloon transiting Latin America. We now assess that it is another Chinese surveillance balloon,” said press secretary Brig. General Patrick Ryder said in a statement to CNN.

It's unclear exactly where the globe is in Latin America, but a US official told CNN that it doesn't appear to be heading to the United States.

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