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Lost in space? Secret SpaceX Zuma satellite a total loss

Lost in space? Secret SpaceX Zuma satellite a total loss

The Zuma mission recently garnered a lot of attention from the media pertaining to the secret mission that it was designed for. No further requests for communication were entertained by the company regarding the mission.

A senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Laura Grego, showed concern that the satellite might have stopped functioning near the orbit or failed to separate from the rocket during the second half of the mission. The Zuma payload was contracted for launch by Northrop Grumman for the USA government, Northrop then selected SpaceX as the carrier of the payload.

The expert refers to the publication Wired, which reported that the layout of the payload on the rocket Zuma said the company Northrop Grumman.

Shotwell said in a statement that since no rocket changes are warranted for upcoming flights, the company's launch schedule remains on track. This could have resulted in the satellite tumbling back to Earth. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately.

SpaceX's new, powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, was at its launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday, awaiting an engine test-firing sometime this week.

However, SpaceX issued a statement clarifying what had transpired during the launch.

"Though we have preserved the range opportunity for tomorrow, we will take the time we need to complete the data review and will then confirm a new launch date". The company also rarely releases formal statements on the outcome of each launch.

In Northrop Grumman, the producer of Zuma and adapter payload, declined to comment, citing the secrecy of the mission.

"Three, two, one, ignition and liftoff", said a SpaceX commentator as the Falcon 9 rocket launched under cover of darkness from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 8:00 pm (0100 GMT Monday).

"This is a classified mission", wrote Lon Rains, a Northrop Grumman spokesman, in an email to Spaceflight Now. "We can not discuss classified programs".

In the meantime, Falcon Heavy, like its smaller cousin the Falcon 9, will advance SpaceX's goal of cutting launch costs by reusing rockets.

The conflicting reports, coupled with the seemingly incongruous aftermath, are adding a rocket-load of mystery to an already mysterious launch.

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), who previous flew into space in the 1980s aboard Columbia as a payload specialist, sided with SpaceX, stating, "The first statement by SpaceX was that the failure to achieve orbit was not theirs". Rumours have arisen that the mission was carrying a spy satellite of Pentagon and that it even had the capability to fix other satellites.

But with the mission's classified nature, confirmation of Zuma's fate, and what may have gone wrong, remained elusive.

There's a brewing controversy surrounding SpaceX's recent launch from Cape Canaveral late Sunday night.


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