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Published: Thu, January 11, 2018
Research | By Jennifer Evans

SpaceX Says Its Rocket Performed As Planned Amid Lost Satellite Rumors

SpaceX Says Its Rocket Performed As Planned Amid Lost Satellite Rumors

The satellite built for the government and codenamed Zuma launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a SpaceX rocket on Sunday.

On Tuesday, SpaceX released a statement saying that the Falcon 9 rocket did everything correctly during Sunday night's launch of Zuma mission and the company anticipated no delays to its lunch.

SpaceX declined to comment further, citing the mission's classified status, as did Northrup Grumman, which manufactured the Zuma satellite and hired SpaceX as the launch contractor.

Last May was the first time SpaceX launched its first satellite for the USA military with its Falcon 9 rocket.

"There's a long tradition of not commenting on problems with classified missions, unless it blows up in such a way that everyone can see it", John Logsdon, founder and former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, told Bloomberg News.

"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", Shotwell said. "And that would put them as responsible on whether it separated from the second stage".

Sources tell the Wall Street Journal that the payload failed to separate from the upper-stage of the rocket, causing the loss of the mission, and possibly the reason it either failed or fell back to Earth.

SpaceX's statement muddied assertions of a failure in the second stage of the Falcon 9, as a United States official and two congressional aides familiar with the launch had said. Whether or not that has something to do with this mission, we just don't know yet. A government official says the mission is a "write-off". The government agency that ordered the spacecraft has not been disclosed. The satellite was destined for low-Earth orbit, Robin Seemangal wrote for Wired late previous year, and unlike most launches, the satellite manufacturer Northrop Grumman, not SpaceX, supplied the payload adapter used to secure the satellite during launch and release it into orbit.

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.

SpaceX is led by Elon Musk and has been rapidly expanding its launch business, which includes NASA, national security and commercial missions. "Info blackout renders any conclusion - launcher issue?" But afterward, the US Strategic Command said it wasn't tracking any new satellites, an indication that the satellite somehow failed to deploy properly.

SpaceX had a spectacular launch this weekend, on January 7, which was capped by a near flawless landing of the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket.

Last March, a Falcon 9 was relaunched into space-the first time an orbital rocket was reused.

According to an Instagram post in December, Musk said the first payload will be a red Tesla Roadster playing David Bowie's Space Oddity on a billion-year elliptical Mars orbit. Around 24 hours after the launch, Aerospace reporters Eric Berger at Ars Technica and Peter B.de Selding at SpaceNews.com began reporting that the payload might be lost. After an extensive Air Force review, SpaceX was certified in 2015 to compete for military launches.

This article was originally published at 10:20 a.m.

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