SpaceX says rocket worked fine as spy satellite reported lost

Steve Phelps
January 11, 2018

During the launch Sunday night from Cape Canaveral, Florida, SpaceX did not report any problems. The satellite was destined for low-Earth orbit, Robin Seemangal wrote for Wired late previous year, and unlike most launches, the satellite manufacturer Northrop Grumman, not SpaceX, supplied the payload adapter used to secure the satellite during launch and release it into orbit.

"After review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly Sunday night".

The satellite built for the government and codenamed Zuma launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a SpaceX rocket on Sunday.

"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", Shotwell added. That includes Northrop Grumman, which built the satellite for the US government.

SpaceX televised the launch and landing of the first stage, but did not provide coverage of the second stage firing or orbital insertion of the satellite, as it often does, because of the classified nature of the mission.

For years, the company has been in a heated battle with ULA over lucrative contracts to launch national security payloads, long seen by Musk as a key source of revenue. So what happened to Zuma? When SpaceX has had mishaps in the past, it's grounded the company for months.

This was SpaceX's third classified mission for the USA government, a lucrative customer.

But, according to the Journal, the satellite failed to reach orbit atop a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. rocket.

Originally scheduled for a November launch, Zuma was delayed by potential concern about another mission's payload fairing, the shell on top that protects a satellite during launch. SpaceX has also declined to give details about the spacecraft. "We can not comment on a classified mission", he said.

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This is not the first time a payload was lost on a SpaceX mission. 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.

SpaceX, however, never officially confirmed mission success.

Last May was the first time SpaceX launched its first satellite for the US military with its Falcon 9 rocket.

Musk has also said the first launch, expected by the end of January, will use previously flown rocket outer cores, as SpaceX continues to make the push for reusable rockets to help lower launch costs and keep it competitive against United Launch Alliance, a Boeing- Lockheed Martin ( LMT ) joint venture.

"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".

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.

"This is a classified program", Northrop Grumman Communications Director Lon Rains told HuffPost in an emailed statement.

Last year was a banner year for the private space company with 18 launches.

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