Secret Zuma Satellite Rumored to Be Lost

Secret US spy satellite may be lost in space after SpaceX launch

A U.S. official and two congressional aides, all familiar with the launch, said on condition of anonymity that the second-stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster rocket failed. If additional reviews uncover any problems, she said, "we will report it immediately".

The Journal, which received the same statement, said the language pointed to normal rocket operations, suggesting the cause of any issue came from elsewhere.

The secretive nature of the Zuma payload makes reliable details about the mission hard to come by or verify.

Whether the Falcon 9 Zuma mission failed or not, SpaceX is now setting its sights on the Falcon Heavy debut launch.

The classified intelligence satellite, built by Northrop Grumman Corp, failed to separate from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket and is assumed to have broken up or plunged into the sea, said the two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Northrop Grumman made the satellite, which it said was for the government and was destined for low-Earth orbit, but offered no other details.

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The launch is SpaceX's first in what was expected to be a busy year. Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false. 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 missions for commercial satellite customers, SpaceX typically returns to the webcast to confirm that the payload has separated from the second stage, but Zuma was a classified mission so the lack of further messages wasn't surprising. 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.

The launch of the Falcon 9 for the classified Zuma mission, which was repeatedly delayed from its initial target date in November previous year, kicked off SpaceX's 2018.

In short, SpaceX appears to be shrugging its shoulders as it prepares to launch yet another Falcon 9 rocket and its first Mars-capable rocket, Falcon Heavy (a launch vehicle that's essentially three times as powerful as a Falcon 9). On September 1, 2016 a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded while preparing to test fire its engines, destroying the Amos 6 communications satellite atop the rocket that was to be used by Facebook. However, the company has completed more than ten successful supply missions to ISS.

The fairing is the part of the rocket nose cone that holds the payload and splits apart at the proper time, so the satellite can slip into orbit.

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