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he 2023 Chinese balloon incident has brought up a lot of stirs, not only in the political theater but also in mass media. This incident has finally proved that China will lie about almost every allegation brought by the US government. The Chinese Spy Balloons, although not very sophisticated technology for these times, it was very effective as they went undetected for quite some time.

At first, many people did not believe that these spy balloons were in fact, spy ballons, but projects of students that had been lost. The pentagon released photos from pilots within U-2 reconnaissance aircraft on 3 February with the Spy balloons.

What is interesting is that this technology is actually American, or far as records go, the first to put it into practice was Richard Muller in 1967 during an experiment named “HAPPE”.

HAPPE Experiment 1967

Richard A. Muller is a physicist from the United States and an emeritus professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. He was also a prominent scientist on the faculty at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His reputation within the physics department is highly regarded for his many years of research.

Recently from the time this article was written, he had published an article in the Wall Street Journal, where he explained how his long-forgotten experiment was used at least as inspiration by the Chinese for their spy balloons. The name given to the experiment “HAPPE” is an acronym that stands for (High Altitude Particle Physics Experiment).

The program, developed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, was the brainchild of American physicist and Nobel laureate Luis Alvarez. As a graduate student, I joined the project. The purpose of Happe’s research was to use high-altitude cosmic rays, specifically high-energy protons that do not enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

To lift the massive Happe package over 95% of the proton-stopping atmosphere, a gigantic (300-foot-tall) helium-filled balloon would be required. Those balloons are virtually impossible to control.

They travel in whatever direction the high winds carry them. These winds are seasonal, and when we launched a prototype, Happe-0, from Palestine, Texas, we did so during one of the two brief periods every year called turnaround. That’s when the wind reverses direction and is temporarily low velocity, making a balloon less likely to be blown into an urban area. To track the balloon’s location, we used a World War II system called long-range navigation, or Loran, aboard the package. Loran was decommissioned in 2010 after GPS became available.

Richard Muller

During that time in 1967, the technology used was high-end. This experiment was actually supposed to be for Muller’s Ph.D. HAPPE was launched in 1967 from Chico, California airport. The stratospheric winds carried the package west above the coastal mountains and over the pacific.

The plan was to let the balloon gather data and carry on going until the station was not able to receive any signal from the balloon.

To pick up instrument signals as the balloon passed overhead, I set up a telemetry station on Cahto Peak, in the California coastal mountains. The package took only a few hours to pass over my telemetry site, and since it did so at night, although I received its nocturnal beeps, I never spotted it visually. Local residents didn’t believe that my telemetry station was part of a cosmic-ray project. They knew NASA had sponsored the experiment and suspected we were studying flying saucers.

Richard Muller

He and his team looked for the balloon close to the coast of the Pacific Ocean, but nothing was ever found. Some have been thinking that the balloon with the apparatus hit the ocean at over 100 miles an hour, destroying everything. However, Muller also speculates that his balloon may have ended up in China, explaining how the Chinese ended up using such technology.

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