Mysterious bright, white dot in Butler County area may be part of Department of Defense program

“DARPA launched three balloons from Cumberland, Maryland, in a flight test for the Adaptable Lighter Than Air Program,” said Heather Babb, spokeswoman for the Department of Defense.  “ALTA will demonstrate capability for wind-borne navigation of a lighter-than-air vehicle over extended ranges.”


Babb stopped short of confirming that the bright, white dot spotted by numerous News Center 7 viewers was indeed a DARPA balloon, however another spokesperson for DARPA said given the location it was likely one of their balloons.

Sightings of the object were reported Tuesday to News Center 7 from viewers in Xenia, Englewood, West Milton, West Carrollton and Eaton.

DARPA’s ALTA program’s 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,” according to DARPA’s website.

DARPA dates back to the launch of Sputnik in 1957 and also has played roles in precision weapons and stealth technology, and other technology advances such as the Internet, automated voice recognition, language transition and GPS.

DARPA is comprised of about 220 government employees in six technical offices, who oversee about 250 research and development programs.


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