Sci-tech

SpaceX says top secret spy satellite disappearing not their fault

SpaceX says top secret spy satellite disappearing not their fault

Company President Gwynne Shotwell said the Falcon 9 rocket "did everything correctly" Sunday night and suggestions otherwise are "categorically false".

SpaceX televised the launch and landing of the first stage, but did not provide coverage of the second stage firing or orbital insertion of the satellite, as it often does, because of the classified nature of the mission.

SpaceX launched a classified, multibillion-dollar spy satellite for the US government on Sunday ― and then something went wrong.

"There's a long tradition of not commenting on problems with classified missions, unless it blows up in such a way that everyone can see it", John Logsdon, founder and former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, told Bloomberg News.

A government official and two congressional aides, all of which are familiar with the matters of the Falcon 9 launch, anonymously said that the second stage of the rocket failed. This launch, which is only to demonstrate the rocket, has been delayed and now is expected to happen in late January, and Musk suggested that people should be temper their expectations as far as the success of the launch. "We can not discuss classified programs". A government official says the mission is a "write-off". On Monday, Ars began to hear discussion from sources that the mysterious Zuma spacecraft-the objective of which was never specified, nor which USA military or spy agency had backed it-may not have survived.

"I think the rocket itself is considered an extremely reliable vehicle", he said. The fact that SpaceX is proceeding with its launch plans, including an imminent static fire test in preparation for the upcoming first launch of the new Falcon Heavy rocket, demonstrates that SpaceX is convinced all is well technically.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said on Twitter that SpaceX did not supply the payload adaptor, which shoots the satellite off the rocket, for this mission.

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The launch broadcast was cut off shortly after the rocket's nose cone separated, which is standard under secret national security missions. Some reports claimed that the Zuma mission failed as the satellite got malfunctioned after it was separated from the Falcon 9 upper stage.

"The most important issue here is whether the Pentagon will rethink its reliability as a provider of launch services", said Thompson, whose think tank receives funding from Boeing and Lockheed.

Last March, a Falcon 9 was relaunched into space-the first time an orbital rocket was reused. After an extensive Air Force review, SpaceX was certified in 2015 to compete for military launches.

Shotwell said in her Tuesday statement that the company "does not anticipate any impact on the upcoming launch schedule" at the end of the month since the data reviewed so far "indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed".

As they battled with SpaceX, ULA's executives launched a "results over rhetoric" campaign, highlighting the company's long heritage in space.

This article was originally published at 10:20 a.m.


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