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emfizz.com January 19, 2018


SpaceX Insists Falcon 9 Performed Nominally for Zuma Launch

11 January 2018, 09:23 | Bernard Bryant

10 things you need to know this morning in Australia

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

A highly classified spy satellite appears to have been lost after its launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a SpaceX rocket Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In a statement Tuesday morning, SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwel said, "After review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night".

The secret satellite, called Zuma, was built for the US government, although it is unclear which part of it. "We can not comment on classified missions", Tim Paynter, Vice President for the company, said earlier.

So if there was a problem, who's at fault?

"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", she said.

It's important to point out that the Falcon 9's reusable first-stage successfully landed in Florida, so we know SpaceX got that part right. SpaceX issued a statement last night that from all the data it had available, the Falcon 9 performed nominally. 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.

Bloomberg reported Monday night, citing a US official and two congressional aides familiar with the launch, that the Falcon 9's second-stage booster section failed.

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

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The private rocket company typically broadcasts an entire satellite deployment via its livestream, but not for classified missions such as this one.

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. Upon re-entry into the earth's atmosphere, most rockets burn up, while Falcon 9 was built with a heat shield able to withstand the melting of its metallic exterior. Under mounting pressure from SpaceX, he was sacked, and ULA's new CEO, Tory Bruno, vowed to "literally transform" the company in order to compete with Musk - and he also continued to champion ULA's track record of successful launches. "We can not comment on classified missions".

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.

The launch was SpaceX's first in what is due to be a busy year.

"They're concerned any failure might hinder their ability to get future national security launch contracts", said Brian Weeden, the director of program planning for the Secure World Foundation, a space-policy think tank.

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.

The Air Force's 45th Space Wing also congratulated the company in a tweet: "What an incredible way to start off 2018 w/the world's 1st successful launch and land of this year!"



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