A Highly Classified Spy Satellite Has Been Destroyed. Probably

Where the top secret spy satellite lands nobody knows. Zuma Mission by Spacex
Where the top secret spy satellite lands nobody knows. Zuma Mission by Spacex

11 January, 2018

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

The mysterious SpaceX Falcon 9 Zuma mission is said to be a failure, as its mysterious satellite is apparently nowhere to be found.

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".

But Shotwell reiterated in a statement Tuesday morning that "after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night".

SpaceX's 23-minute webcast of the Zuma launch Sunday evening included the Falcon 9 launch, confirmation that the fairings deployed, and the rocket's first-stage recovery on land in Florida. "If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", Gwynne Shotwell, the company's president and chief operating officer, said in a statement to Business Insider.

Tim Paynter, a spokesman for Northrop Grumman Corp, which was commissioned by the Defense Department to choose the launch contractor, declined to comment on the payload adapter, saying "we can not comment on classified missions".

Musk has also said the first launch, expected by the end of January, will use previously flown rocket outer cores, as SpaceX continues to make the push for reusable rockets to help lower launch costs and keep it competitive against United Launch Alliance, a Boeing- Lockheed Martin ( LMT ) joint venture.

Jonathan McDowell of Jonathan's Space Report, which provides detailed information about space launches, tweeted yesterday that the Air Force assigned a tracking number (43098) and name (USA 280) to the object, suggesting that it made at least one orbit, but leaving open the question of whether the satellite and second stage separated or not.

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Nauert said details were still being worked out on the additional funds, and referred questions to the Defense Department. The money that has been suspended at this time does not mean that it will be withheld forever, she said.

The nature of the mission remains shrouded in mystery. "We can not comment on classified missions".

As they battled with SpaceX, ULA's executives launched a "results over rhetoric" campaign, highlighting the company's long heritage in space.

In a statement, the Department of Defense said, "As a matter of policy we do not comment on classified missions".

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. The episode is also shaping up as a test for the billionaire's ambitions in space - especially SpaceX's hard-won ability to compete for military missions.

SpaceX launched two other national security missions past year: a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office in May and the Pentagon's autonomous space plane, known as the X-37B, in September. However, the company has completed more than ten successful supply missions to ISS.

A U.S. official and two congressional aides, all familiar with the launch, said on condition of anonymity that the second-stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster rocket failed.

Last year was a banner year for the private space company with 18 launches.

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