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‘Orbs’ Over Kansas City Sparks Interest of Locals, DARPA Reveals What They Are

By Paula Liu

Flying objects seen over the Kansas City sky has locals speculating what the orbs might be.

KMBC said on Twitter it had received several calls on June 21 from locals reporting sights of two orbs in the sky near the Kansas City International Airport. The broadcaster tagged the Kansas City National Weather Service (NWS) in hopes it could provide some answers for their viewers.

“We’ve taken several calls in our newsroom about these two orbs spotted in the Kansas City sky tonight,” KMBC wrote. “This picture was taken near KCI airport. @NWSKansasCity.”

On Twitter, people expressed they thought the orbs might actually be weather balloons, however the NWS Kansas City replied to the broadcaster on Twitter writing that it does not know what the objects are.

“We honestly have no explanation for the floating objects over Kansas City,” the NWS Kansas City wrote on the social media site.

NWS Kansas City’s tweet alone received more than 900 comments, with people speculating on the possibilities of what the orbs may be—including aliens and smoke alarms.

One person on Twitter said the objects could be from a Thunderhead balloon system that was launched from Cumberland, Maryland, by company Raven Aerostar. He listed three balloons and their launch times.

“All balloons floating eastward above eastern Ohio,” he wrote.

Another user wrote that the orbs may be GoogleLoon, which provide internet access to people who live in rural areas, according to KMBC.

“They are up above 70 kit but they are so large, that you can see them,” he said in the tweet.

According to KMBC reporter William Joy, a spokesperson from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) told him the orbs are likely one of the agencies balloons.

“You can relax now! @DARPA spokesperson tells me given the position, it is likely one of their balloons in test flight,” Joy wrote in a June 21 tweet.

The flight test was for the agency’s new program, Adaptable Lighter Than Air (ALTA). The program launched three balloons from Cumberland, Maryland, for the program’s flight test, according DARPA’s June 18 post on Twitter.

“The goal of the Adaptable Lighter Than Air (ALTA) program is to develop and demonstrate a high altitude lighter-than-air vehicle capable of wind-borne navigation over extended ranges,” DARPA said on its website.

“The balloons can fly at altitudes of more than 75,000 feet. While they do not have independent propulsion, the ALTA vehicle is designed to navigate by changing altitude and thus taking advantage of different wind profiles aloft. A state-of-the-art Winds Aloft Sensor (WAS) is also being developed on the program, which is intended to provide real time stratospheric wind measurements.

The project was headed by Alexander M. G. Walan, the Tactical Technology Officer of DARPA. Walan managed another DARPA program called “Multi-Azimuth Defense Fast Intercept Round Engagement System,” a defense system against attacks by unnamed and unknown objects.