Did SpaceX lose a secret government satellite?

SpaceX Zuma spacecraft

Zuma was built for the U.S. government, although it is unclear which part of the government. SpaceX is saying only that "reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally", or as expected.

SpaceX has successfully launched a secret spacecraft on behalf of the U.S. government on Sunday, Jan. 7.

"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", she said. Those numbers are much warmer than the 30 degrees temperatures forecasted for the Friday launch window by U.S. Air Force weather officials earlier in the week. Or the rocket did not pass over enough radio dishes for a new command to be sent.

"According to one source, the payload fell back to Earth along with the spent upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket", Ars Technica's Eric Berger wrote. But it did show both the launch and the landing of the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket back at Cape Canaveral.

In a statement, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell said the company couldn't comment on the payload, but disputed allegations that the rocket itself malfunctioned.

Originally scheduled for a November launch, Zuma was delayed by potential concern about another mission's payload fairing, the shell on top that protects a satellite during launch.

Shotwell went on to say that any information or suggestion contrary to her statement is "categorically false".

SpaceX ended commentary on the mission five minutes after liftoff, given the classified nature of the satellite. But the launch is bound to be a setback.

SpaceX did not report any problems with the launch; however, while the company usually announces a successful launch regardless of the classification of the payload, no confirmation was given by SpaceX or Northrup Grumman, the company that manufactured the secret satellite.

What is aboard the Zuma satellite?

The rocket, traveling at the speed of sound, created a sonic boom as it touched down.

USA Today reported that amateur satellite trackers who specialize in keeping tabs on classified missions believe that Zuma could be an experimental spacecraft testing new technologies, possibly sensors for watching close approaches between spacecraft.



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