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

SpaceX Launch

Posted late Monday night in its official Twitter feed, a SpaceX picture showed the Falcon 9 launch and its first-stage landing.

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.

"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", Shotwell added.

Company president Gwynne Shotwell said the rocket "did everything correctly" and suggestions otherwise are "categorically false", according to the Associated Press.

A highly classified and multibillion-dollar US spy satellite atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is presumed to have been destroyed, never reaching orbit on its Sunday launch, according to news reports.

A classified payload called Zuma, built by Northrup Grumman for the USA government, was being delivered to orbit.

One possible key to SpaceX's strong defense of its rocket could involve the question of who supplied a key piece of hardware: the payload adapter, which attaches a payload to the rocket. said Northrop Grumman provided the adapter to "mate" Zuma to the Falcon 9. The sources would not confirm what exactly the payload was, saying it was classified.

The Falcon 9 launch, which was tasked to send the Zuma payload into low-Earth orbit, was again recently delayed due to issues with the rocket's nose.

With a price tag of $62 million, the Falcon 9 was designed as a two-stage rocket, becoming the world's first orbital-class rocket with reflight capability.

Only now, what was supposed to be a triumph for Musk and his Space Exploration Technologies Corp. has turned into a potential setback after the satellite went missing.

The mission itself was shrouded in secrecy even before it failed to enter a stable orbit. According to the LA Times a spokesperson for Grumman declined to provide an explanation and said, "This is a classified mission". The Falcon Heavy is perhaps the most important rocket ever created by SpaceX, as it is the one planned to be used for missions to the moon and Mars.

"It means you can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket", founder Elon Musk said at the time of the launch. Falcon Heavy has been rolled out to launchpad LC-39A for a static fire later this week, to be followed shortly thereafter by its maiden flight.

We'll update this story as new details emerge about the Zuma mission and its alleged failure.

"This is a classified program", Northrop Grumman Communications Director Lon Rains told HuffPost in an emailed statement. After a rigorous Air Force review, SpaceX was certified in 2015 to compete for military launches.

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



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