Secret Zuma Satellite Rumored to Be Lost

Secret US spy satellite may be lost in space after SpaceX launch

Instead, it plunged back into the atmosphere, according to the Journal.

Speculation about what could have happened includes a failure of the satellite to separate from the second stage due to a problem with the interface between the two. One of the aides told Bloomberg that both the satellite and the rocket's second stage fell into the ocean.

SpaceX said a review of the data revealed a successful launch and there's no reason to suspect the Falcon 9 performed otherwise.

"SpaceX is saying, "'Everything performed as expected, it's not our fault, '" said Marco Caceres, senior analyst and director of space studies with the Teal Group. Its secret US government-sponsored payload, though, did not fare as well, according to sources.

If the satellite is no longer in orbit, she said the listing will eventually be removed when the catalog is updated.

A classified payload called Zuma, built by Northrup Grumman for the USA government, was being delivered to orbit. Few details about the satellite are officially known besides its codename "Zuma", not even which government agency meant to use the satellite nor for what goal. They say that the adapter that attaches the satellite to the rocket's upper stage might have malfunctioned and that would have resulted in the failure of the mission.

A secret spacecraft launched by a SpaceX rocket on Sunday failed to enter a stable orbit and was lost. The company has recently ramped up its launch pace, even launching two missions from opposite coasts within about 48 hours.

According to an Instagram post in December, Musk said the first payload will be a red Tesla Roadster playing David Bowie's Space Oddity on a billion-year elliptical Mars orbit. "Info blackout renders any conclusion - launcher issue?"

SpaceX's statement muddied assertions of a failure in the second stage of the Falcon 9, as a U.S. official and two congressional aides familiar with the launch had said.

With a price tag like that, taxpayers will want to know what happned said Phil Larson, faculty at University of Colorado Boulder and a former SpaceX employee.

The end goal for the Hawthorne, California-based company will be to prove the utility of the rocket that can lift more than twice the payload of competitor United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy.

For years, the company has been in a heated battle with ULA over lucrative contracts to launch national security payloads, long seen by Musk as a key source of revenue.

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.

Shotwell added: "Since the data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed, we do not anticipate any impact on the upcoming launch schedule".

United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing created more than a decade ago to launch sensitive satellites for the Pentagon and intelligence community, has always been under fire from Elon Musk's SpaceX, the tenacious upstart that plowed its way into the market by waging war in Washington, D.C.



Other news