Where the top secret spy satellite lands nobody knows. Zuma Mission by Spacex
11 January, 2018, 00:26
Zuma, a top-secret government payload launched by SpaceX, reportedly crashed to Earth on Sunday night.
That would explain SpaceX's account of a ideal launch, while also squaring with accounts the satellite is a total loss.
According to Shotwell, data already reviewed has showed that "no design, operational or other changes are needed" that would impact further launches.
"For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night", Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer for SpaceX, said in an emailed statement to Newsweek. "We can not comment on classified missions", Tim Paynter, Vice President for the company, said earlier.
"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", she said in a statement.
A spokesman for Northrop Grumman Corp., which built the satellite valued to be worth more than $1 billion, told the Journal: "This is a classified mission".
Tim Paynter, a spokesman for Northrop Corp., which was commissioned by the Defense Department to choose the launch contractor, said "we can not comment on classified missions", and army lieutenant colonel Jamie Davis, the Pentagon's spokesman for space policy, referred questions to SpaceX.
But even if SpaceX's Falcon 9 performed perfectly, it is not a good time for the company, founded by Musk in 2002, to have something happen to such an important payload. "We can not comment on classified missions". The report said that the "secret spy satellite" failed to maintain its orbit after getting separated from the Falcon 9 upper stage.
SpaceX competes for military launches with United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp., which was the sole provider for the Pentagon until Musk launched a campaign in Congress and the courts challenging what he called an unfair monopoly.
Until government officials are willing to make a public statement about Zuma, its fate will remain a mystery. According to the LA Times a spokesperson for Grumman declined to provide an explanation and said, "This is a classified mission".
The massive Falcon Heavy, which has already been staged on a Cape Canaveral launchpad, stands 230 feet tall and consists of three Falcon 9 first-stage cores. So, whether the Zuma mission was a success or a failure, is still unknown.
SpaceX is led by Elon Musk and has been rapidly expanding its launch business, which includes NASA, national security and commercial missions. The company has said it plans about 30 missions in 2018 after completing a record 18 a year ago. The fact that SpaceX is proceeding with its launch plans, including an imminent static fire test in preparation for the upcoming first launch of the new Falcon Heavy rocket, demonstrates that SpaceX is convinced all is well technically.
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