SpaceX launches secretive Zuma mission

SpaceX launches secretive Zuma mission

SpaceX launches secretive Zuma mission

SpaceX has launched a secret satellite codenamed Zuma on its first flight of the new year. After a bitter legal and lobbying battle, the Pentagon certified SpaceX's Falcon 9 for the missions and now is relying on SpaceX to reliably fly its satellites to orbit.

A network of amateur satellite trackers are on the lookout for Zuma in case it is still in orbit, but they are working off an estimate of its expected location, and it could take weeks to find the spacecraft, assuming it is still in space and is orbiting where predicted.

Its Falcon 9 rocket "performed nominally", it said.

On launch day, safely tucked away in a protective payload fairing will be Musk's 2008 Tesla Roadster, an all-electric sports vehicle that boosted his energy company during its formative years.

Zuma was SpaceX's third military launch.

Shotwell said in a statement that since no rocket changes are warranted for upcoming flights, the company's launch schedule remains on track.

Gwynne Shotwell, the chief operating officer of SpaceX, issued a strongly worded statement on Tuesday that placed the blame elsewhere. However, SpaceX chose to delay the launch to deal with some issues regarding the payload fairing (nose cone).

The maker of the billion-dollar Zuma spy satellite, defense contractor Northrop Grumman, refused to comment on the plight of its missing satellite.

And if the test fire and demonstration flight are successful, SpaceX's manifest will open up to new capabilities thanks to its ability to take heavier payloads to orbit.

"This is a classified program", Northrop Grumman Communications Director Lon Rains told HuffPost in an emailed statement. The mission, backed by the U.S. government, has become the talk of the town because neither the agency behind the liftoff nor the Pentagon are taking responsibility or sharing details about it post the liftoff.

SpaceX was certified by the U.S. Air Force in 2015 to carry national security satellites, a move that broke up a longtime and lucrative monopoly held by a joint venture of Boeing Co. and

SpaceX has pushed back an historic test of the Falcon Heavy, the world's largest rocket. It was so shrouded in secrecy that the sponsoring government agency was not even identified, as is usually the case.

The likely culprit for the failed launch of the payload can be an American Corporation Northrop Grumman.

But with the mission's classified nature, confirmation of Zuma's fate, and what may have gone wrong, remained elusive.

There's a brewing controversy surrounding SpaceX's recent launch from Cape Canaveral late Sunday night.

On the heels of the Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9/GovSat 1 missions later this month, SpaceX plans at least two launches in February for two Spanish customers.

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