Mysterious objects floating over Kansas City in late June sparked such a media flurry and public response, that the National Weather Service of Kansas City was compelled to tweet “we honestly have no explanation for the floating objects over Kansas City.” The tweet was accompanied by an image of two “floating objects” in the sky and only served more speculation.
Re: Floating objects (two small white spheres above the anvil shield). Others farther north may have a better view. pic.twitter.com/fFTYi59vGM
— NWS Kansas City (@NWSKansasCity) June 21, 2019
Social media was alight with many speculations that an alien invasion was occurring. It wasn’t until hours later, that the mystery behind the flying objects was revealed to be a top-secret DARPA mission.
The project, named the Adaptable Lighter Than Air (ALTA) program was developed to test high altitude lighter-than-air vehicles. The ALTAs are said to be capable of wind-borne navigation over lengthy ranges. The “floating objects” that turned out to be balloons are capable of flying at altitudes of more than 75,000 feet while carrying a small payload.
The three ALTA balloons were launched by DARPA from Cumberland, Maryland, around 80 miles west of Camp David, on June 18. It was reported that DARPA was tracking the balloons and that the ALTA balloon flights were coordinated with the FAA.
Last night, DARPA launched 3 balloons from Cumberland, Maryland, in a flight test for the Adaptable Lighter Than Air prgm. Over next few days, ALTA will demonstrate capability for wind-borne navigation of a lighter-than-air vehicle over extended ranges. https://t.co/Og8dWCvszc pic.twitter.com/NjUB6Got94
— DARPA (@DARPA) June 18, 2019
“The balloons are controlled from fixed and mobile ground stations, with consistent point-to-point links and satellite relays,” said ALTA program manager, Dr Alexander M.G. Walan, and noted the sensors attached to the balloons are used to assess flight performance. Also, the balloons are larger than weather balloons and look like orbs, giving them an “alien” appearance.