SpaceX, Pentagon wash hands of mysterious Zuma mission

SpaceX, Pentagon wash hands of mysterious Zuma mission

One idea, in contradiction to SpaceX's official statements, is that the rocket's upper stage underperformed and caused the problem. The company chose SpaceX as the launch provider, noting late previous year that it took "great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma".

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. The company has twice stated that its rocket, both the first and second stages, performed nominally during the launch on Sunday evening.

The expert refers to the publication Wired, which reported that the layout of the payload on the rocket Zuma said the company Northrop Grumman.

The Falcon rocket's upper stage vented excess fuel and was dropped from orbit on objective, a standard procedure to minimize space junk. "After review of all the data to data, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night", she said. SpaceX said it would not comment beyond its statement.

If something went wrong - "a big "if" - I am skeptical", he wrote in a blog post - it could be that the spacecraft ended up in the wrong orbit, that it did not work after separating from the rocket, or that it failed to separate from the Falcon 9's upper stage at all.

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", she said. Meanwhile, theories are emerging that the USA government-backed Zuma was a satellite meant to monitor or intercept nuclear activities by North Korea.

On launch day, safely tucked away in a protective payload fairing will be Musk's 2008 Tesla Roadster, an all-electric sports auto that boosted his energy company during its formative years.

Big questions remain unanswered as officials remained tight-lipped about a billion-dollar satellite that could be somewhere in orbit - or crashed into the sea.

SpaceX is led by Elon Musk and has been rapidly expanding its launch business, which includes NASA, national security and commercial missions. 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. The company later said it had cleared the issue.

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. In 2017, SpaceX completed 18 launches.

Shotwell went on to state that this latest mishap will have no bearing on future SpaceX launches, and that Falcon Heavy is being prepped for its maiden flight.

The launch window January 30 opens at 4:23 p.m. EST (2123 GMT) and extends for 134 minutes. Another Falcon 9, meanwhile, is scheduled to fly in three weeks with a communication satellite for Luxembourg.

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