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Budd-Kelly Bill to Track High-Altitude Balloons Passes Committee

Washington, D.C. — Today, Senators Ted Budd (R-NC) and Mark Kelly’s (D-AZ) ‘Seeing Objects at Altitude Regularly’ (SOAR) Act passed out of the Senate Commerce Committee – a key step towards it becoming law.

The bill was included and passed as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act.

The bill requires the FAA to issue new regulations to require that all high-altitude balloons operating 10,000 feet above sea level be equipped with a tracking system that will transmit the balloon’s altitude, identity, and location.

The legislation also requires the FAA to work with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to develop equivalent standards for high-altitude balloons launched elsewhere in the world.

The bill was originally introduced after the federal government’s response to four unknown aerial objects over North America, including one Chinese surveillance balloon, which were shot down by U.S. fighter jets.

Sen. Budd said in a statement:

“In order to better protect our nation’s skies, we must do a better job of tracking and identifying objects flying over American airspace. That is exactly what the SOAR Act seeks to do. I am pleased we were able to get this important piece of legislation included in the FAA Reauthorization bill and look forward to working with Senator Kelly going forward to get it across the finish line and signed into law.”

Sen. Kelly said:

“We need to be able to identify whether objects in our airspace are a threat or not, and now we’re one step closer to getting that done. I’m glad to be partnering with Senator Budd on this, and we’ll keep working to get it passed into law and implemented.”


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