Secret Zuma Satellite Rumored to Be Lost

SpaceX shows the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Fla. for the

SpaceX says its rocket did the job Sunday, even as rumors swirl that the satellite on board was lost shortly after launch. As it is a secret mission, neither SpaceX nor Northrop Grumman, the manufacturer of the Zuma satellite, have disclosed any information about top-secret Zuma mission.

A view of the launch of launch the classified intelligence satellite, code-named Zuma, in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

"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.

"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", Shotwell added. The other aide said both the satellite and second-stage rocket fell into the ocean.

The Wall Street Journal quotes unidentified congressional officials who were briefed on the mission as saying the satellite apparently did not separate from the second stage, and plunged through the atmosphere and burned up.

By all indications, SpaceX pulled off the Sunday launch of the secret Zuma spacecraft with no hitches, sending the second stage well on its way to the Low Earth Orbit as the first reusable stage nailed a pretty good landing eight minutes later in Cape Canaveral. "We can not comment on classified programs".

"This is a classified program", Northrop Grumman Communications Director Lon Rains told HuffPost in an emailed statement. On Monday, Ars began to hear discussion from sources that the mysterious Zuma spacecraft-the objective of which was never specified, nor which United States military or spy agency had backed it-may not have survived.

During a livestream of Sunday's launch, SpaceX said it got successful confirmation that the fairing - the clamshell-like covering for payloads at the tip of the rocket - did deploy.

As it usually does for classified launches, Loren Grush reports forThe Verge, SpaceX censored coverage of the launch, cutting its livestream prior to nose cone separation that would reveal the payload.


"I think the rocket itself is considered an extremely reliable vehicle", he said.

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.

"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.

The company has been preparing to launch its new Falcon Heavy rocket, which is made up of three Falcon 9 engine cores.

On its website, SpaceX says it has more than 70 upcoming missions on its launch manifest, which could take several years.

Once Falcon Heavy launches, it will be the most powerful rocket now flying. Last year, SpaceX completed 18 launches.

SpaceX had a spectacular launch this weekend, on January 7, which was capped by a near flawless landing of the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket.

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

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