What Went Wrong With the Launch of the Secretive Zuma Satellite?

11 January, 2018, 09:24 | Author: Carmen Reese
  • SpaceX shows the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral for the ‘Zuma’ US satellite mission

If Zuma is observed in orbit or not, the true story of what happened during the launch will likely remain shrouded in mystery for years.

"Zuma satellite from @northropgrumman may be dead in orbit after separation from @SpaceX Falcon 9, sources say", de Selding tweeted.

The satellite is highly classified.

A classified payload called Zuma, built by Northrup Grumman for the U.S. government, was being delivered to orbit.

Northrop Grumman - which provided the satellite for an undisclosed USA government entity - said it can not comment on classified missions. Andy Pasztor reporting forThe Wall Street Journal, concurs the satellite was lost, writing that United States lawmakers were briefed after the satellite burned up in the atmosphere.

Whether the Falcon 9 Zuma mission failed or not, SpaceX is now setting its sights on the Falcon Heavy debut launch.

"We do not comment on missions of this nature, but as of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally", a representative for the company said. Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX that if their company or others find otherwise based on further reviews, they would report the same immediately. Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false. "We can not comment on classified missions".

"Since the data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational, or other changes are needed, we do not anticipate any impact on the upcoming launch schedule", said Shotwell. Falcon Heavy has been rolled out to launchpad LC-39A for a static fire later this week, to be followed shortly thereafter by its maiden flight.

Secret US spy satellite may be lost in space after SpaceX launch

Falcon Heavy is SpaceX's massive new rocket that will boast three times the thrust of the Falcon 9.

A photograph taken by a Dutch airline pilot, Peter Horstink, flying near Sudan coupled with analysis by Dutch amateur satellite tracker Marco Langbroek (@Marco_Langbroek) supports the assessment that the second stage performed as expected. The satellite was said to have fallen back to Earth along with the second stage of the rocket.

Strangely - and in yet another apparent contradiction - US Strategic Command told Bloomberg that its not tracking any new satellites. All information so far does appear to exonerate the Falcon 9.

A highly classified U.S. spy satellite was reportedly lost in a failed SpaceX mission in Florida.

By all indications, SpaceX pulled off the Sunday launch of the secret Zuma spacecraft with no hitches, sending the second stage well on its way to the Low Earth Orbit as the first reusable stage nailed a pretty good landing eight minutes later in Cape Canaveral.

Speculation about what could have happened includes a failure of the satellite to separate from the second stage due to a problem with the interface between the two.

Last May was the first time SpaceX launched its first satellite for the USA military with its Falcon 9 rocket.

SpaceX successfully landed the first stage of the Falcon 9, which is an important achievement so that it can be used in future launches to reduce the cost of sending rockets to space.

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