Arizona Democrat says US shouldn't shoot down 'weather balloons,' founded weather balloon firm with Chinese investment

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Senator Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and a member of the Armed Services Committee, co-founded the stratosphere exploration company World View which has investment from Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings, as the Arizona Democratic has recently said the government should not be shooting down “weather balloons.”

According to RealClearPolitics, “Kelly himself has first-hand knowledge of China’s investments in near-space balloon technology” and co-founded the company in 2012, which then gained investment from Tencent in 2014.

Tencent, the owners of texting app WeChat, have been accused of surveillance on behalf of the CCP and have seen international bans over evidence it has collected data inside and outside of China. “Kelly was instrumental in securing the first Tencent investment,” reports RealClearPolitics

The company’s website features video of balloon technology launching payloads into the atmosphere. World View’s initial launch promised space tourism for $75,000 where a helium balloon would propel a capsule into outer space. That balloon technology, called “stratollite,” transitioned from space tourism to NASA contracting by 2015. Its repurpose moved to image the earth at a higher resolution than most satellites.

From 2016 to 2019 Claudia Kelly, the senator’s eldest daughter, worked as World View’s business opportunity manager and Senator Kelly was employed by the company as a strategic advisor through 2019 when he launched his senate campaign.

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