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Is Zuma Lost? SpaceX Said Its Rocket Did Everything Right

14 January 2018, 12:09 | Lionel James

SpaceX's three-core 27-engine Falcon Heavy launch vehicle sits on pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in December 2017

SpaceX's three-core 27-engine Falcon Heavy launch vehicle sits on pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in December 2017

The Zuma payload is believed to have fallen back through the Earth's atmosphere due to the failure to separate, as the second stage of the rocket is created to fall back to earth and burn up on re-entry. The Zuma payload was contracted for launch by Northrop Grumman for the USA government, Northrop then selected SpaceX as the carrier of the payload.

"Three, two, one, ignition and liftoff", said a SpaceX commentator as the Falcon 9 rocket launched under cover of darkness from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 8:00 pm (0100 GMT Monday).

Northrop Grumman, the satellite's manufacturer, said it could not comment on a classified mission.

"For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night", SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement emailed to HuffPost.

Shotwell pushed back on reports that seemed to implicate SpaceX with the satellite's demise, saying "information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false".

Also, the future flights of SpaceX will remain scheduled as they were.

Teams will watch closely as the three-core launch vehicle is loaded with propellant at pad 39A on Thursday, then briefly fire its 27 Merlin engines for the first time.

Unnamed government officials and that the satellite, built by under the code-name "Zuma", failed to reach orbit and crashed back into the atmosphere.

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While the authorities are refraining from discussing the fate of Zuma mission, SpaceX is planning on increasing the feasibility of the rockets to make it reusable like airplanes which can significantly decrease the cost incurred during any mission. A spokesperson for the huge defense contractor declined to comment on Zuma after Sunday night's launch.

The GovSat 1 satellite is set to launch on the next Falcon 9 rocket mission.

Under mounting pressure from SpaceX, ULA's CEO Tory Bruno vowed to "literally transform" the company to compete - and he also continued to champion ULA's track record of successful launches of more than 100 in a row.

If the separation system was to blame for Zuma's rumored demise, the malfunction could have been under the responsibility of Northrop Grumman, not SpaceX.

As SpaceX looks to increase its share of defense business, those customers are very much interested in reliability, said Carissa Christensen, chief executive of consulting firm Bryce Space and Technology.

It was one of the most important things Elon Musk has ever launched into space: a government satellite so shrouded in secrecy that virtually everything about it is classified.

SpaceX was certified by the U.S. Air Force in 2015 to carry national security satellites, a move that broke up a longtime and lucrative monopoly held by a joint venture of Boeing Co. and



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