US spy satellite believed to be lost: report

SpaceX is set to launch a Falcon 9 rocket from the Space Coast on Sunday

Described as SpaceX's "most secretive payload yet", it's unclear what the satellite SpaceX was contracted to launch is intended for.

-This report was updated at 9:45 a.m.

SpaceX on Tuesday defended the performance of one of its rockets used to launch a U.S. spy satellite that is believed to have been lost after failing to reach orbit, adding that no changes were anticipated to its upcoming launch schedule.

Viewers saw light from the Falcon 9 engines glowing and diffracted through a pair of thin cloud decks, one at 4,000 feet and another at roughly 20,000 to 25,000 feet, said Tony Cristaldi, senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Melbourne. However, SpaceX did not confirm the success of the rest of the mission. Just like its origins, the so-called Zuma spacecraft's purpose is a tightly guarded secret as well, according to Tech Crunch.

Zuma was on Sunday delivered to low-Earth orbit, which is typically defined as any orbital path less than about 1,200 miles above the Earth's surface.

Likewise, SpaceX initially had no comment.

SpaceX is planning to perform a static test fire of its massive Falcon Heavy rocket later this week, the company revealed today in a statement from company President and COO Gwynne Shotwell.

"If we or others find otherwise based on further reviews, we will report it immediately", she said.

"Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false", Shotwell continued.

To be fair, part of the glory days of NASA was a result of the Cold War, the space race with the Soviet Union.

SpaceX's 23-minute webcast of the Zuma launch Sunday evening included the Falcon 9 launch, confirmation that the farings deployed, and the rocket's first-stage recovery on land in Florida. That's a strong indication the presumed problem, whatever it might be, did not involve the rocket or any of its systems. It is assumed the satellite plummeted back to Earth, landing in the ocean, according to the Wall Street Journal. "Following first stage separation, the second stage Merlin ignites and takes the payload to a parking orbit before igniting again to place the payload into its final orbit".

News reports said the satellite, named Zuma, may have plunged back toward earth.

"We do not comment on missions of this nature, "said SpaceX spokesperson James Gleeson, "but as of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally". We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks". When SpaceX has had mishaps in the past, it's grounded the company for months. "Consistent with SpaceX claim that rocket behaved correctly". Mere commercialization doesn't ensure that the private sector can do for space exploration what it can for, say, a supermarket. 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. In 2014, SpaceX sued the Air Force arguing that it should be able to compete for the contracts. Zuma is in orbit and alive. 2.



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