SpaceX launches secretive Zuma mission

This still image from video courtesy of SpaceX shows the launch of SpaceX's secretive US government payload known as Zuma on January 7 from Cape Canaveral Florida

SpaceX launches secretive Zuma mission

CEO Elon Musk can breathe a sigh of relief as SpaceX has finally launched its mysterious Zuma spacecraft into orbit after months of delays.

The highly classified and expensive government satellite launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral has reportedly been destroyed.

Bloomberg reported Monday night, citing a USA official and two congressional aides familiar with the launch, that the Falcon 9's second-stage booster section failed.

However, SpaceX never officially confirmed the success of the mission.

Aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman-who organized the launch for the US government-confirmed the secretive nature of the mission a year ago.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the satellite failed to separate properly during the second stage of the mission and dived back into the Earth's atmosphere which caused the failure of the designated mission.

An article in Wired said that Northrop Grumman provided the adapter to mate Zuma to the Falcon 9.

The Falcon 9 booster successfully made it back to earth under its own power. The rocket's second stage propels the satellite into orbit.

Company President Gwynne Shotwell said the Falcon 9 rocket "did everything correctly" Sunday night and suggestions otherwise are "categorically false". That would have been about 1? orbits and normal for a second stage. Strapped to a Falcon 9 rocket, the craft carried a secret U.S. Government payload into orbit around Earth.

SpaceX launched a reused Falcon-9 for NASA from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, December 22, 2017.

During a livestream of Sunday's launch, SpaceX said it got successful confirmation that the fairing - the clamshell-like covering for payloads at the tip of the rocket - did deploy. Also, the future flights of SpaceX will remain scheduled as they were.

Congressional inquiries into the satellite failure may revive debate about SpaceX's rivalry for military contracts with United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp.

The Defense Department and the Air Force have repeatedly referred questions to SpaceX.

"The most important issue here is whether the Pentagon will rethink its reliability as a provider of launch services", said Thompson, whose think tank receives funding from Boeing and Lockheed.

"SpaceX is saying "'everything performed as expected, it's not our fault,"' a senior analyst and director of space studies with the Teal Group, said.

On its website, SpaceX says it has more than 70 upcoming missions on its launch manifest, which could take several years.

Last year was a banner year for SpaceX, with 18 launches.

The company is preparing to launch its new Falcon Heavy rocket, made up of three Falcon 9 engine cores.

Northrup Grumman, the maker of the payload, said it was for the United States government and would be delivered to low-Earth orbit, but offered no other details.

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