US authorities shot down a Chinese balloon containing 10kW of solar power – similar to a typical rooftop solar installation – off the coast of South Carolina earlier this year.
In February, a spy balloon from China was shot down off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, recently leaked on the Discord chat site the balloon’s surveillance capabilities, described in a US National Geopatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) document. On April 14, Teixeira was charged with illegally copying and transmitting confidential material.
The Washington Post reported that a leaked document confirmed that the balloon contained enough solar panels to power an advanced radar that can produce images at night. The surveillance system, known as synthetic aperture radar, can also penetrate clouds and thin coverings such as tarps.
According to the NGA document, the ship had 10 kW of solar capacity. This is a similar amount of solar capacity that would be found on US residential buildings. The balloon also contained a parabolic dish with a diameter of 1.2 meters, several unidentified sensors and a possible mast antenna, the newspaper said.
A spy balloon was brought down by a missile fired from a US Air Force jet on February 4. China criticized the United States for its response to the balloon, saying it was “irresponsible” and evidence of “information warfare” against Beijing.