Thursday, 21 June, 2018


Elon Musk's SpaceX Loses 'Zuma' Government Payload

In this image made with an 8-minute long exposure the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and lands as seen from from the Ocean Club Marina in Port Canaveral Fla. Sunday Jan. 7 2018. On Sunday SpaceX has launched a Elon Musk's SpaceX Loses 'Zuma' Government Payload
Conrad Doyle | 10 January, 2018, 19:42

In September 2016, Facebook's internet satellite was destroyed when the Falcon 9 rocket carrying it exploded. Although it has cut launch prices dramatically around the world, critics of SpaceX are constantly whispering that the company is unreliable even though it had a sterling launch record in 2017 of 18 launches and 18 successes.

Citing government and industry officials who were briefed on the mission, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday night that the satellite did not separate as intended after the firing of the rocket's second stage. To top it, enthusiastic trackers of satellites deem it possible that the rocket completed its 2 stage in a proper fashion which indicated a usual flight maneuver.

Is this anything like earlier SpaceX launch failures?

The rumors were corroborated by the sources of Ars Technica, claiming that the mysterious Zuma spacecraft may not have survived the Falcon 9 launch. SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell has since put out a statement saying the Falcon 9 rocket "did everything right", and that the outcome of the Zuma mission will not affect the Falcon Heavy launch planned for the end of January. "I am confident other experts on the subject will agree with me", he added.

The Zuma satellite was likely worth billions of dollars, making this the second billion-dollar payload that SpaceX has lost in just two years.

As with all recent SpaceX Falcon 9 launches, the company successfully landed the first stage booster back on land for refurbishment and reuse.

The fairing of a Falcon 9 rocket.

However, the key part connecting the Zuma payload to the rocket, and which pops off a satellite once it's reached the correct altitude, wasn't made by SpaceX. What does Northrop Grumman say happened?

On Sunday night, SpaceX launched a classified payload known only as "Zuma" for the United States government. "We can not comment on classified missions".

However, in this instance Northrup Grumman provided its own device, fuelling speculation of a fault, but the aerospace giant has refused to comment on the classified mission.

"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", she said in a statement. "Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false", Shotwell said. Northrop Grumman VP of Strategic Communications Tim Paynter, meanwhile, said that he could not comment on classified missions.

"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".

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket - the most powerful ever - is being prepped for its maiden flight later this month.

Zuma was launched by Space from its SLC-40 launch facility at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

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