SpaceX says rocket worked fine as spy satellite reported lost

11 January, 2018, 00:21 | Author: Sam Montgomery
  • Watch Elon Musk’s SpaceX launch the classified payload for the U.S. government referred to by code name Zuma

SpaceX successfully landed the first stage of the Falcon 9, which is an important achievement so that it can be used in future launches to reduce the cost of sending rockets to space.

SpaceX's review so far indicates that 'no design, operational or other changes are needed, ' Shotwell said.

"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.

SpaceX said its Falcon 9 rocket, launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, performed flawlessly.

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.

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

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The company's live webcast did not show video coverage of the Zuma spacecraft after it separated from the first stage of the rocket, but confirmed that the fairings deployed and the payload was on its way to low-Earth orbit.

While the Falcon 9 had the Zuma satellite, the Falcon heavy will have an interesting payload of its own: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's personal Tesla Roadster. "We can not discuss classified programs".

Until government officials are willing to make a public statement about Zuma, its fate will remain a mystery.

Citing government and industry officials who were briefed on the mission, the Wall Street Journal that the satellite did not separate as intended after the firing of the rocket's second stage. And along with Boeing Co., it has a contract with NASA to fly astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the "Commercial Crew" program, with the first crucial test flight scheduled for the second quarter. According to the LA Times a spokesperson for Grumman declined to provide an explanation and said, "This is a classified mission".

Even without clarity on what went wrong, the mishap represents a possible turnabout for Musk, who was coming off a record year of launches and rounds of fundraising that rendered his closely held company one of the most valuable startups in the world. 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. It did stream the successful landing of the Falcon 9 first stage rocket booster after it completed its primary mission. 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".

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. The company has said it plans to launch about 30 missions in 2018 after completing a record 18 previous year. After a rigorous Air Force review, SpaceX was certified in 2015 to compete for military launches.


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