SpaceX Launches Secret Zuma Mission for US Government, Lands Rocket

  • SpaceX Launches Secret Zuma Mission for US Government, Lands Rocket

SpaceX Launches Secret Zuma Mission for US Government, Lands Rocket

Running a month and a half late because of payload fairing issues and subsequent rescheduling, the rocket was targeted for liftoff from pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during a two-hour window starting at 8 p.m. EST (GMT-5).

After launch, SpaceX returned the tall portion of the Falcon 9 rocket to an upright landing at Cape Canaveral.

The Falcon 9 will carry a US government satellite made by Northrop Grumman into low earth orbit.

Elon Musk's SpaceX is set to once again launch its mysterious Zuma mission January 5, after it was pushed back last November.

"Northrop Grumman realizes that this is monumental responsibility and have taken great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma", Lon Rains, communications director for Northrop Grumman's Space Systems Division, said in an official statement.

SpaceX is scheduled to launch an undisclosed national security payload on Sunday night.

Success on Sunday will clear the way for SpaceX's next launch from Florida, the much anticipated test flight of the Falcon Heavy booster.

Although we don't know what the Zuma payload is for, it does resemble two other missions in recent memory, and suggests this may be for an even more secret agency.

The Zuma launch kicked off what SpaceX hopes will be an exciting year. The monstrous rocket will have three times the thrust of the Falcon 9.

SpaceX ended launch commentary five minutes into the flight, due to the classified nature of the satellite. So, it has only attempted recovering a single core.

The Zuma launch is the first of up to 30 or so SpaceX flights planned for 2018 following a record 18-launch year in 2017. SpaceX's press kit offers no details about the mysterious satellite.