SpaceX Falcon Heavy lined up for first launch from Kennedy Space Center

Muriel Hammond
January 11, 2018

The Wall Street Journal quotes unidentified congressional officials who were briefed on the mission as saying the satellite apparently did not separate from the second stage, and plunged through the atmosphere and burned up.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said on Twitter that SpaceX did not supply the payload adaptor, which shoots the satellite off the rocket, for this mission.

SpaceX competes for military launches with United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp., which was the sole provider for the Pentagon until Musk launched a campaign in Congress and the courts challenging what he called an unfair monopoly. First SpaceX will perform what is known as a wet dress rehearsal, filling the rocket with fuel and performing all systems checks short of engine ignition.

"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", Shotwell said.

The satellite is assumed to be "a write-off", one of the officials said.

Zuma may have cost billions of USA taxpayer dollars to design, build, and certify, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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

WATCH Caught on camera SpaceX rocket explodes during testing
WATCH Caught on camera SpaceX rocket explodes during testing

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. Its secret US government-sponsored payload, though, did not fare as well, according to sources.

While the landing was nearly flawless, the company did not go on to confirm that the mission was a success, at least officially, according to Ars Technica. "We can not comment on classified missions". "We can not comment on classified missions", Tim Paynter, Vice President for the company, said earlier.

"For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night". Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the classified Zuma payload, January 7, 2018. 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. Another Falcon 9, meanwhile, is scheduled to fly in three weeks with a communication satellite for Luxembourg.

The Falcon 9 Zuma mission finally took off, but interestingly, SpaceX's live webcast of the launch was cut off right before the rocket deployed the Zuma payload into orbit.

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

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