SpaceX dealt blow as secret military satellite goes missing

SpaceX Launch

Anthony Capaccio and Dana Hull reporting for Bloomberg cite a USA official and two congressional aides reporting the launch failed, with one aide stating that the satellite and second-stage rocket fell back into the ocean.

Zuma lifted off from SpaceX's Space Launch Complex-40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on Sunday evening at 8:00 pm ET in what appeared to be a flawless Falcon 9 launch and landing of the first stage.

"I don't think we can know", Ketcham said.

A SpaceX representative told Business Insider, "We do not comment on missions of this nature, but as of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally". "If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", Gwynne Shotwell, the company's president and chief operating officer, said in a statement to Business Insider.

"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.

According to an Instagram post in December, Musk said the first payload will be a red Tesla Roadster playing David Bowie's Space Oddity on a billion-year elliptical Mars orbit.

"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", Shotwell said in the statement.

The company has said it plans about 30 missions in 2018 after completing a record 18 a year ago. So, whether the Zuma mission was a success or a failure, is still unknown. Amidst speculation, one thing is certain: the satellite isn't fully functional in its intended orbit.

Other reports have come in suggesting that while the Zuma satellite made it to LEO, it may have failed to come online. Commentary during a webcast of the launch appeared to confirm that the fairings housing the payload were successfully deployed. Northrup Grumman, the aerospace contractor that hired SpaceX to sling its "Zuma" satellite into orbit, says it's "classified". Army Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis, the Pentagon spokesman for space policy, referred questions to SpaceX.

On its website, SpaceX says it has more than 70 upcoming missions on its launch manifest, which could take several years. The takeoff had been pushed back several times since late 2017, with the past week's extreme weather on the East Coast contributing to the latest delay.

SpaceX's new, powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, was at its launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday, awaiting an engine test-firing sometime this week.

SpaceX's 23-minute webcast of the event Sunday evening included the Falcon 9 launch and the rocket's first-stage recovery on land in Florida. The webcast then concluded.

A classified payload called Zuma, built by Northrup Grumman for the United States government, was being delivered to orbit. SpaceX has also declined to give details about the spacecraft. In 2015, a rocket blew up while carrying cargo to the space station.

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