Strange Sky Spiral May Come from Secretive SpaceX Zuma Launch

Strange Sky Spiral May Come from Secretive SpaceX Zuma Launch

Yesterday we talked a bit about the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that had successfully put a secret United States government satellite called Zuma in orbit.

However, in an emailed statement to Xinhua, SpaceX hinted that the presumed problem may have nothing to do with its Falcon 9 rocket, which "did everything correctly" during the launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The company chose SpaceX as the launch provider, noting late a year ago that it took "great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma". The name refers to a Malibu beach in Southern California. That includes Northrop Grumman, which built the satellite for the US government. It was so shrouded in secrecy that the sponsoring government agency was not even identified, as is usually the case.

The rocket's first stage completed its job and landed back at Cape Canaveral following liftoff. But no second-stage information was provided because of all the secrecy surrounding the flight.

But, according to the Journal, the satellite failed to reach orbit atop a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. rocket. "National security payloads are a very important potential market for SpaceX".

In a statement, the Department of Defense said, "As a matter of policy we do not comment on classified missions".

Or, the Bloomberg and WSJ accounts are correct, and there was some kind of failure during the second stage. He said a number designation was assigned by federal space trackers, but that doesn't mean there is anything still in 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 added.

It has been competing with other private companies to launch more military payloads. It's shooting for even more flights in 2018.

As word spread on Monday that something may have happened to the Zuma satellite, SpaceX maintained that nothing went wrong with its Falcon 9 rocket, saying a review of the data showed it "performed nominally".

United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing created more than a decade ago to launch sensitive satellites for the Pentagon and intelligence community, has always been under fire from Elon Musk's SpaceX, the tenacious upstart that plowed its way into the market by waging war in Washington, D.C. "We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks".

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