The spotting of a high-altitude balloon over the U.S. mainland this week quickly spiraled into a diplomatic incident. U.S. officials say the object is a Chinese spy balloon, while Chinese officials called it a “civilian airship” mainly used to track weather.

The airborne vehicle was originally spotted over Montana, home to some of the United States’ nuclear missile silos. The balloon then moved southeast from Montana, with locals in Missouri and Kansas reporting sightings, before a U.S. military aircraft brought it down just off the Atlantic Coast, near the Carolinas.

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