SpaceX May Have Lost A Super-Expensive And Classified US Spy Satellite

  • SpaceX May Have Lost A Super-Expensive And Classified US Spy Satellite

SpaceX May Have Lost A Super-Expensive And Classified US Spy Satellite

Conflicting reports are surfacing after SpaceX's seemingly successful launch of a Falcon 9 rocket with a secret government payload, code-named Zuma. However, the positive presence of the satellite in the orbit can not be confirmed. "Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible".

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

"Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false", said Gwynne Shotwell, chief operating officer of Hawthorne, Calif. -based SpaceX.

"I would have to refer you to SpaceX, who conducted the launch", White told Bloomberg News reporter Tony Capaccio at a Pentagon briefing.

SpaceX officials said the Falcon 9 functioned as expected during Sunday's launch.

If something went wrong - "a big "if" - I am skeptical", he wrote in a blog post - it could be that the spacecraft ended up in the wrong orbit, that it did not work after separating from the rocket, or that it failed to separate from the Falcon 9's upper stage at all. However, the company has not specified if the Zuma payload was "successfully" deployed in the orbit.

The satellite launch was originally scheduled for November 15, but SpaceX pushed it back to review how the Falcon 9 delivers its payload.

Marco Langbroek, an amateur satellite tracker from the Netherlands who was closely watching Zuma, said evidence shows the rocket's upper stage did achieve orbit. If additional reviews uncover any problems, she said, "we will report it immediately". "We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks".

Just before 1 p.m., though, the company postponed the test fire.

Shotwell's statement emailed to reporters was an unusual one for SpaceX, which rarely comments on planned Falcon 9 flights before the week of 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".

That includes the debut launch of its Falcon Heavy rocket from Kennedy Space Center. Meanwhile, theories are emerging that the United States government-backed Zuma was a satellite meant to monitor or intercept nuclear activities by North Korea.

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.

According to Wired Magazine, Northrop Grumman supplied the adapter fitting connecting the Zuma payload with the Falcon 9 rocket.

The foggy responses by concerned authorities are fueling the fire to rumors and speculations about Zuma mission being a failure.

White insisted that the "classified nature of all of this" made it impossible for her to respond to any queries.

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.