Officials said the U.S. believes that Navy, Coast Guard and FBI personnel collected all of the balloon debris off the ocean floor. U.S. Northern Command said in a statement that the recovery operations ended Thursday and that final pieces are on their way to the FBI lab in Virginia for analysis. It said air and maritime restrictions off South Carolina have been lifted.
The announcement capped three dramatic weeks that saw U.S. fighter jets shoot down four airborne objects — the large China balloon and three much smaller objects over Canada, Alaska and Lake Huron — the first known peacetime shootdowns of unauthorized objects in U.S. airspace.
The officials also said the search for the small airborne object that was shot down over Lake Huron has stopped, and nothing has been recovered. U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military operations.
Yesterday, President Biden described the three smaller objects shot down as benign...with some speculation that they could have been nothing more than inexpensive weather balloons from U.S. groups.
On Thursday, Texas Republican Senator, Ted Cruz, joked that Biden’s decision to authorize the $200 million fighter jet to use a $400,000 missile to shoot down what may have been a $12 balloon serves as a "powerful deterrence" to high school students interested in creating their own at-home science balloons.