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Lost in space? Secret SpaceX Zuma satellite a total loss

14 January 2018

SpaceX defended its rocket performance during the weekend launch of a secret US satellite, responding Tuesday to media reports that the satellite codenamed Zuma was lost.

SpaceX declined to comment on the particulars, but in a statement to HuffPost was adamant there was no failure on its end.

It was one of the most important things Elon Musk has ever launched into space: a government satellite so shrouded in secrecy that virtually everything about it is classified.

An expensive, highly classified USA spy satellite is presumed to be a total loss after it failed to reach orbit atop a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. rocket on Sunday, according to industry and government officials.

"For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night".

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"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", Shotwell added. The second stage booster section of the Falcon 9 reportedly failed and the satellite and the rocket's second stage plummeted into the Indian Ocean after it was launched into orbit.

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

SpaceX's new, powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, was at its launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday, awaiting an engine test-firing sometime this week.

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

Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false.

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Langbroek wrote in a blog post that he believes the image shows the Falcon 9's upper stage dumping excess propellant after a de-orbit burn to drive it back into Earth's atmosphere. Later, the team will closed the satellite up inside the payload fairing of Falcon 9. "Falcon Heavy has been rolled out to launch pad LC-39A for a static fire later this week, to be followed shortly thereafter by its maiden flight".

"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. We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks". Its classified mission was intentionally inscrutable - whether to detect missile launches, spy on adversaries, or to track ship at sea with a space radar.

"They're concerned any failure might hinder their ability to get future national security launch contracts", said Brian Weeden, the director of programme planning for the Secure World Foundation, a space-policy think tank.

Falcon Heavy is created to take heavier payloads to higher orbits, opening SpaceX's manifest to new capabilities.

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Lost in space? Secret SpaceX Zuma satellite a total loss