Mystery around U.S. military's secret satellite launch by SpaceX deepens

Запущенный SpaceX секретный спутник упал в океан

SpaceX has launched a secret satellite codenamed Zuma on its first flight of the new year. SpaceX isn't commenting on the allegedly failed mission, however.

A Falcon 9 rocket is set to lift off in February from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the Spanish-owned Paz radar imaging satellite, and another Falcon 9 is slated to haul the Hispasat 30W-6 geostationary communications craft to orbit from Cape Canaveral some time in February. A recycled Falcon 9 booster stage that first flew May 1 with the USA government's classified NROL-76 payload will hoist the GovSat 1 spacecraft toward orbit, and a factory-fresh second stage will finish the job.

Media reports cited anonymous USA government officials familiar with the launch confirming that the Zuma mission failed.

"For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night", SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement emailed to HuffPost. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately.

The Falcon's first stage completed its job, lifting the rocket off the pad and toward space, then separated and landed back at Cape Canaveral. The last Corporation in the launch previously collaborated with the Alliance ULA (United Launch Alliance), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, not SpaceX.




Shotwell pushed back on reports that seemed to implicate SpaceX with the satellite's demise, saying "information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false". Later payload Zuma (USA 280) a command of the aerospace defense of North America (the addition is performed after at least one revolution of the spacecraft around the Earth, that does not preclude further Assembly of the device from orbit).

Harrison, the defense analyst, said that SpaceX is in a frustrating position because it is limited in what it can say publicly about what happened. However, SpaceX made a decision to delay the launch to deal with some issues regarding the payload fairing (nose cone).

If Zuma did indeed fail, it's possible the payload adapter Northrop Grumman built to deploy the satellite from the rocket itself malfunctioned. "We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks".

While the authorities are refraining from discussing the fate of Zuma mission, SpaceX is planning on increasing the feasibility of the rockets to make it reusable like airplanes which can significantly decrease the cost incurred during any mission.

On the other hand, ArsTechnica notes that the fairing for Zuma was also supplied by Northrop Grumman.

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