Published On: Tue, Jan 9th, 2018

Zuma satellite believed to be lost after SpaceX launch remains shrouded in mystery



Secretive U.S. government Zuma Satellite is presumed to be a total loss after it failed to reach orbit and fell back into the atmosphere, according to a Wall Street Journal report, citing anonymously industry and government officials due to the classified mission.

According to its sources, WSJ reported that the payload launch Sunday — believed to be a spy satellite —apparently didn’t separate from the upper part of the rocket as it should have. Bloomberg reports that it was the rocket’s second stage itself that had failed.

No government agency stepped forward to claim the satellite.

SpaceX and Northrop Grumman, which built the satellite, refuse to talk. Speculation has been swirling all day about the fate of the mission. “We do not comment on missions of this nature; but as of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally,” the space corporation told Engadget.


SpaceX to Launch Secretive Zuma Satellite for US Government


An astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, working on Chandra and quasars, and commenting on space launches and space activities, Jonathan McDowell, noted that the object made it to orbit.

He said Northrop Grumman provided its own adapter used to attach the payload to the rocket’s final stage. If the adapter was the one that failed to pop off when it was time for Zuma to detach itself, then the incident might not be SpaceX’s fault at all.




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