Mystery around United States military's secret satellite launch by SpaceX deepens

Запущенный SpaceX секретный спутник упал в океан

It was said that Zuma failed to separate from the second stage of the Falcon 9, broke up in the air and fell into the sea.

The billion-dollar satellite is now assumed to be "a write-off", one of the officials said.

Tim Paynter, a spokesman for Northrop Grumman, which manufactured the satellite and chose SpaceX for the mission, declined to comment on the coupling, saying "we can not comment on classified missions".

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell pushed back against reports that her company's Falcon 9 rocket may have malfunctioned during Sunday's launch of a classified spy satellite.

An investigation is under way, but there is no initial indication of sabotage or other interference, they said.

The satellite for the secret mission was built by Northrop Grumman Corp.

The new rocket gives the Hawthorne space company heavy-lift capability, meaning SpaceX could hoist massive satellites for commercial customers or lucrative national security missions.

Bloomberg also reported members of Congress have requested a classified briefing on the Zuma mission. But Shotwell reiterated in a statement Tuesday morning that "after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night".

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While the authorities are refraining from discussing the fate of Zuma mission, SpaceX is planning on increasing the feasibility of the rockets to make it reusable like airplanes which can significantly decrease the cost incurred during any mission.

SpaceX's resolve and relentless drive was unchanged by the mystery surrounding Zuma (which included the possibility that nothing went wrong, and the satellite was, indeed, on orbit). He said his committee would provide "rigorous oversight that accounts for that risk and ensures that we can meet all of our national security space requirements as the Air Force looks to competitively procure space launch services in the future".

SpaceX has continued on with preparations for the Falcon Heavy and an upcoming Falcon 9 launch for satellite operator SES and the Luxembourg government.

The next satellite assigned to fly on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has arrived at Cape Canaveral ahead of a planned January 30 liftoff from pad 40 on a previously-flown SpaceX booster. The company chose SpaceX as the launch provider, noting late a year ago that it took "great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma".

Falcon Heavy launches start at $90 million, compared to the starting price of $62 million for the smaller Falcon 9, according to SpaceX's website.

Despite the lack of government comment, officials from SpaceX and Northrop Grumman have a cache of video images and other information about the sequence of events during Sunday's launch.

That in itself was a statement: "They're not going to launch again if they think there's a chance it was their fault", said Todd Harrison, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Though we have preserved the range opportunity for tomorrow, we will take the time we need to complete the data review and will then confirm a new launch date".

The Air Force's 45th Space Wing also congratulated SpaceX in a tweet: "What an incredible way to start off 2018 w/the world's 1st successful launch and land of this year!"

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