What was the balloon filled with?
Unlike the German balloon the Hindenburg, which was filled with seven million cubic feet of highly flammable hydrogen, the massive Chinese balloon was filled with helium—and lots of it. It is estimated that it would take Party City employees six years to fill it up, longer if they had to keep stopping to wait on other customers.

How did the Pentagon conclude that it was indeed a spy balloon and not a weather balloon or something else?
Primarily through process of elimination. If the Chinese were really interested in knowing the weather over Montana, there’s an app for that. Also, since the balloon did not have either a giant Spider-Man face or the phrase “Sweet 16” printed on it, the Pentagon eliminated birthday-party décor. Therefore, it was a pretty good bet that it was either a spy balloon or a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon gone rogue.

What do we know about the pilot who shot it down?
The Pentagon has not released any information about the air-force pilot who shot down the balloon, other than to say that accounts on Facebook that it was Tom Cruise in an F-18 were incorrect.

Is there a commercial application for this balloon technology? Specifically, as an alternative to flying Southwest?
Another intriguing idea! Curiously, multiple calls to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg’s home regarding this possibility were not returned. Stay tuned.

I read on social media that this balloon is linked to the Jewish space lasers that U.S. representative Marjorie Taylor Greene warned us about a few years back. True?
There is no evidence to support this claim. That has not stopped many on the far right from believing that the balloon was being controlled by George Soros via Hunter Biden’s laptop. (Some constituents in Greene’s district have resumed wearing tinfoil hats as a precaution.)

It is estimated that it would take Party City employees six years to fill it up.

Does the U.S. have any plans to retaliate?
Many inside the Pentagon say they would not be surprised to see the Goodyear Blimp floating over Beijing, but not until after the Super Bowl.

I read the balloon was huge—with an undercarriage that was the size of three buses. Hypothetically, would it be possible for a giant clown to bend and twist such a balloon into a massive poodle?
Yes. Experts say a giraffe, unicorn, or butterfly would also be possible.

The Pentagon now says that the Chinese flew three similar balloons over the U.S. during the previous administration. Why didn’t President Trump shoot down these massive gasbags?
Professional courtesy.

John Ficarra is the former editor of Mad magazine