Did SpaceX lose a secret government satellite?

Loren Grush, a reporter at The Verge and SpaceX expert, does a good job of untangling the threads in an article posted early today (Jan. 9).

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, a company led by Tesla founder Elon Musk, successfully launched the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Sunday.

Watch Elon Musk's SpaceX launch the classified payload for the U.S. government referred to by code name Zuma. If there was some kind of separation problem, the fault may not lie with SpaceX, but rather Northrop Grumman.

Northrop Grumman, meanwhile, has declined to comment on the launch.

On Monday, rumors about the mysterious spacecraft swirled. "We cannot comment on classified missions", a Northrop communications director told The Verge.

"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", she said. "Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false". "Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible".

He noted that U.S. military's Joint Space Operations Center, which tracks objects in space, did catalog an object designated "payload", meaning something completed at least one orbit. At this point, the government appears to not have determined who is at fault, but clearly this will be a consequence-filled decision for one or both of these companies in the business of providing the government with launch and satellite services.


'The popularity of these type of ideas makes it certain that every new discovery by our spaceships will be be minutely studied for any evidence of Nibiru, or any other similar body that might be populated by extraterrestrials'.

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket - the most powerful ever - is being prepped for its maiden flight later this month. Bloomberg reports that the upper stage failed, and the Journal reports that the spacecraft fell back to Earth.

After the satellite was deployed in orbit, the site says, the firm was able to return the main booster stage of the rocket back to Earth.

The news wire quoted two sources as saying the satellite is assumed to have broken up or plunged into the sea. In second mission SpaceX had launched the robotic X-37B space plane of the U.S. Air Force in September 2017. SpaceX issued a statement Tuesday suggesting that its rocket performed as designed.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, speculated that the second-stage failing could have been due to the payload adapter provided by Northrup Grumman.

But while striking, the visuals likely were the result of what meteorologists said were relatively common weather conditions. Solar arrays must unfold as planned to re-charge batteries, for example, radios have to activate for commanding, flight computers must carry out stored programs as planned. And so far, it's unclear who's to blame.

Zuma is widely regarded as a national-security mission.


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