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It's not official, but sources say the secretive Zuma satellite was lost
11 January 2018, 12:52 | Antonio Miles
SpaceX shows the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral for the ‘Zuma’ US satellite mission
The sources would not confirm what exactly the payload was, saying it was classified. It was so shrouded in secrecy that the sponsoring government agency was not even identified, as is usually the case. "We can not comment on classified missions".
Tim Paynter, a spokesman for Northrop Corp., which was commissioned by the Defense Department to choose the launch contractor, said "we can not comment on classified missions", and army lieutenant colonel Jamie Davis, the Pentagon's spokesman for space policy, referred questions to SpaceX.
Actions taken by SpaceX on Monday indicate its confidence in the rocket's performance during the Zuma launch.
SpaceX, which was founded by Elon Musk, says its rocket performed correctly. "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. Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false.
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".
Shotwell said in a statement that since no rocket changes are warranted for upcoming flights, the company's launch schedule remains on track. 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. In the static fire test, SpaceX engineers will ignite all 27 of the heavy-lift rocket's engines almost simultaneously for the first time, holding the rocket down on the launch pad while they do.
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. Earlier in the day, SpaceX founder Elon Musk shared photos of the nighttime launch on Twitter.
Because of Zuma's secrecy, SpaceX didn't live stream the entire mission as it typically does.
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 is not the first time a payload was lost on a SpaceX mission.
While the landing was nearly flawless, the company did not go on to confirm that the mission was a success, at least officially, according to Ars Technica.
The loss of a government payload comes at a bad time for SpaceX, which was founded by Elon Musk, who is CEO of both the privately-held rocket company and electric vehicle maker Tesla. After a rigorous Air Force review, SpaceX was certified in 2015 to compete for military launches.
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