Is Zuma Lost? SpaceX Said Its Rocket Did Everything Right

12 January, 2018, 12:40 | Author: Tracy Craig
  • SpaceX says rocket performance OK in secret satellite launch

Elon Musk's SpaceX finally launched its mysterious Zuma satellite on Sunday from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Adding to the mystery, the satellite, categorized as United States of America 280, was still listed as a payload on orbit by the US space surveillance system as of Tuesday afternoon, said Laura Grego, a Caltech-trained physicist who is a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. SpaceX said it would not comment beyond its statement. "We can not comment on classified missions". And she noted that any reports that the rocket failed are "categorically false".

On the heels of the Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9/GovSat 1 missions later this month, SpaceX plans at least two launches in February for two Spanish customers.

She continued: "Falcon Heavy has been rolled out to launchpad LC-39A for a static fire later this week, to be followed shortly thereafter by its maiden flight".

Last year was a banner year for the private space company with 18 launches. Aerospace and defense company Northrup Grumman-which worked on the mission with SpaceX on behalf of the government-told Space.com its function was "restricted" and was being fired into "low-Earth orbit".

This article was originally published at 7:20 p.m.

ULA is preparing to kick off its 2018 launch schedule with a Wednesday flight of a classified National Reconnaissance Office mission from California on a Delta IV rocket. This means as soon as the status of the satellite is confirmed, the listing of Zuma as a payload shall be updated. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately. One idea, in contradiction to SpaceX's official statements, is that the rocket's upper stage underperformed and caused the problem.

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

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Shotwell's statement emailed to reporters was an unusual one for SpaceX, which rarely comments on planned Falcon 9 flights before the week of launch.

According to Shotwell, "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".

That includes the debut launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy Space Center. That will be followed by a January 18 night launch from the Cape of an Atlas V rocket and US missile warning satellite.

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.

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 foggy responses by concerned authorities are fueling the fire to rumors and speculations about Zuma mission being a failure. "Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible".

In 2015, SpaceX was certified by the U.S. Air Force to launch national security satellites.

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