The Biden administration has been short on details about a mysterious car-sized object that it ordered shot down Friday morning over Alaskan waters after it entered U.S. airspace on Thursday night.
The object was smaller than the Chinese surveillance balloon shot down nearly a week earlier over the Atlantic Ocean. The balloon was the size of about three buses and had a payload attached, while the object shot down Friday was only estimated to be about the size of a small car.
Observers said the unknown object did not appear to have any steering or maneuvering capabilities like the balloon did. It was "at the whim of the wind," White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.
It was flying 20,000 feet lower than the balloon, at 40,000 feet, and posed a risk to civilian air traffic in the area.
"This thing did not appear to be self-maneuvering so therefore at the mercy of prevailing winds, it was much less predictable. The president just wasn't willing to take that risk," President Joe Biden said to reporters about the object.
"A recovery effort will be made and we're hopeful that it will be successful and then we can learn a little bit more about it," Kirby said.
The object was described as "cylindrical and silver-ish gray" by a U.S. official, according to ABC's Martha Radditz.
The U.S, briefed Canada on its intended course of action before it shot the object down, and Canada expressed support for the action.
Biden was criticized for not shooting the spy balloon down faster, but its altitude did not pose a risk to aircraft and the administration was worried the debris would injure someone or cause damage.
Shooting down this object over Alaska's waters, currently frozen, may make the recovery effort easier this time.
"We do expect to be able to recover the debris since it fell not only within our territorial space, but on what we what we believe is frozen water," Kirby said. "So, a recovery effort will be made, and we're hopeful that it will be successful and then we can learn a little bit more about it."
The object was determined to be unmanned by personnel in the air when it was shot down.
While the Pentagon did finally locate the Chinese balloon's payload fully intact in recent days, it is still working on recovery due to choppy conditions.
"It was difficult for the pilots to glean a whole lot of information," he said, adding, "There was a limit to how much they could divine."