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12 January 2018, 12:42 | Bernard Bryant
Did Space X Just Lose a Super Secret Government Satellite? We May Never Know
The highly classified and expensive government satellite launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral has reportedly been destroyed.
Adding to the mystery, the satellite, categorized as US 280, was still listed as a payload on orbit by the U.S. space surveillance system as of Tuesday afternoon, said Laura Grego, a Caltech-trained physicist who is a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell issued a statement Tuesday saying the Falcon 9's part of the mission went off as planned.
While it appeared that the launch went off without a hitch, the full launch and separation of the nose cone, which surrounded the secret satellite, was not streamed as it normally is, due to the classified nature of the mission. And she noted that any reports that the rocket failed are "categorically false". The last Corporation in the launch previously collaborated with the Alliance ULA (United Launch Alliance), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, not SpaceX.
She continued: "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 next satellite assigned to fly on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has arrived at Cape Canaveral ahead of a planned January 30 liftoff from pad 40 on a previously-flown SpaceX booster.
SpaceX did not report any problems with the launch; however, while the company usually announces a successful launch regardless of the classification of the payload, no confirmation was given by SpaceX or Northrup Grumman, the company that manufactured the secret satellite.
Brian Mahlstedt, an automation software engineer at SpaceX, told live-stream viewers: "We're not going to show video coverage of it, but we will confirm that the fairings have separated, meaning that Zuma and second stage are the only vehicles continuing on to their final orbit".
This article was originally published at 10:20 a.m. It could majorly affect the future business prospects of the company SpaceX associated with the defense, explained the defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, Loren Thompson.
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Shotwell said SpaceX planned to proceed with its launch schedule "since the data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed".
Bloomberg, citing a USA official and two congressional aides familiar with the launch, that the Falcon 9's second-stage booster section failed. "We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks".
That includes the debut launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy Space Center.
According to the latest ArsTechnica, now in the U.S. Congress to investigate the circumstances of the possible loss of Zuma and the role of interaction between SpaceX and Northrop Grumman.
Big questions remain unanswered as officials remained tight-lipped about a billion-dollar satellite that could be somewhere in orbit - or crashed into the sea.
The foggy responses by concerned authorities are fueling the fire to rumors and speculations about Zuma mission being a failure.
A Falcon 9 rocket is set to lift off in February from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the Spanish-owned Paz radar imaging satellite, and another Falcon 9 is slated to haul the Hispasat 30W-6 geostationary communications craft to orbit from Cape Canaveral some time in February. Various spokespeople in recent days - including during a press briefing Thursday at the Pentagon - have repeatedly declined to discuss the mission, citing the classified nature of the program.
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