Published: Thu, January 11, 2018
Sci-tech | By Javier West

SpaceX defends rocket performance after loss of USA spy satellite

SpaceX defends rocket performance after loss of USA spy satellite

Zuma lifted off from SpaceX's Space Launch Complex-40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on Sunday evening at 8:00 pm ET in what appeared to be a ideal Falcon 9 launch and landing of the first stage.

Zuma, the code-name of the clandestine payload - likely a next-generation spy or communications satellite - most likely broke apart and crashed into the ocean, according to the Wall Street Journal, NBC, and other outlets.

SpaceX on Tuesday defended the performance of one of its rockets used to launch a USA spy satellite that is believed to have been lost after failing to reach orbit, adding that no changes were anticipated to its upcoming launch schedule.

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. Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible.

But this much is certain: Zuma, perched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, streaked across the Florida sky from Cape Canaveral on Sunday evening and the first stage returned safely to land. Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX that if their company or others find otherwise based on further reviews, they would report the same immediately.

United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, is poised to showcase its record of reliability with the launch Wednesday of a satellite for the US government.

SpaceX televised the launch and landing of the first stage, but did not provide coverage of the second stage firing or orbital insertion of the satellite, as it often does, because of the classified nature of the mission.

The end goal for the Hawthorne, California-based company will be to prove the utility of the rocket that can lift more than twice the payload of competitor United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy. "We can not comment on classified programs". According to the LA Times a spokesperson for Grumman declined to provide an explanation and said, "This is a classified mission".

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

The launch is SpaceX's first in what was expected to be a busy year. 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. However, rumors are now swirling that SpaceX actually failed the Zuma mission, especially after there was no confirmation that it was a success.

A top-secret government mission launched by SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by tech mogul Elon Musk, may have failed on Sunday night.

SpaceX is led by Elon Musk and has been rapidly expanding its launch business, which includes NASA, national security and commercial missions.

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

It has been competing with other private companies to launch more military payloads.

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