Sci-tech

SpaceX May Have Lost A Super-Expensive And Classified US Spy Satellite

SpaceX May Have Lost A Super-Expensive And Classified US Spy Satellite

Marco Langbroek, an amateur satellite tracker from the Netherlands who was closely watching Zuma, said evidence shows the rocket's upper stage did achieve orbit.

SpaceX launched two other national security missions past year - a and the Pentagon's in September.

SpaceX has launched national security payloads in the past, including a spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, and an X-37B space plane for the US Air Force. It could majorly affect the future business prospects of the company SpaceX associated with the defense, explained the defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, Loren Thompson.

While it appeared that the launch went off without a hitch, the full launch and separation of the nose cone, which surrounded the secret satellite, was not streamed as it normally is, due to the classified nature of the mission.

The expert refers to the publication Wired, which reported that the layout of the payload on the rocket Zuma said the company Northrop Grumman. This could have resulted in the satellite tumbling back to Earth.

"For clarity: after reviewing of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night". SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell issued a statement Tuesday saying the Falcon 9's part of the mission went off as planned.

Bloomberg, citing a US official and two congressional aides familiar with the launch, that the Falcon 9's second-stage booster section failed.

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SpaceX was originally set to launch the Zuma mission in November, but the company tweeted at the time that it was postponing the mission "to take a closer look at data from recent fairing testing for another customer". If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately. This means as soon as the status of the satellite is confirmed, the listing of Zuma as a payload shall be updated. A spokesperson for National Reconnaissance Office, which owns the USA government's spy satellite fleet, said Zuma did not belong to that organization.

Reporters Sunday night expected confirmation from Northrop Grumman after officials confirmed the Zuma payload's successful launch, but the announcement never came.

The satellite launch was SpaceX's third national security mission, and another step toward potentially high-paying contracts through the Department of Defense, Ars Technica. That broke up a longtime and lucrative monopoly held by a joint venture between Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co. known as United Launch Alliance, which has had 100% mission success in its 123 launches.

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk's goal is to flawless the technique so that rockets can one day become just as reusable as airplanes, thereby lowering the cost of space travel.

"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. "We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks".

SpaceX has pushed back its scheduled test fire of the Falcon Heavy rocket by one day.