SpaceX defends rocket's performance in secret satellite launch

But it did show both the launch and the landing of the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket back at Cape Canaveral.

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.

"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", Shotwell added.

A military satellite launched by Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp. hasn't been spotted in orbit by the US Strategic Command, creating a mystery about the fate of the classified payload and doubts about whether the mission was a success.

The launch of the Falcon 9 for the classified Zuma mission, which was repeatedly delayed from its initial target date in November past year, kicked off SpaceX's 2018.

"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", she said.

A spokesman for Northrop Grumman Corp., which built the satellite valued to be worth more than $1 billion, told the Journal: "This is a classified mission".

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One possible key to SpaceX's strong defense of its rocket could involve the question of who supplied a key piece of hardware: the payload adapter, which attaches a payload to the rocket. said Northrop Grumman provided the adapter to "mate" Zuma to the Falcon 9.

The Falcon 9 launch, which was tasked to send the Zuma payload into low-Earth orbit, was again recently delayed due to issues with the rocket's nose.

Whether the Falcon 9 Zuma mission failed or not, SpaceX is now setting its sights on the Falcon Heavy debut launch. Anthony Capaccio and Dana Hull reporting for Bloomberg cite a USA official and two congressional aides reporting the launch failed, with one aide stating that the satellite and second-stage rocket fell back into the ocean. "But on this mission the customer provided its own payload adapter, so separation may be its problem and not SpaceX's problem", Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tweeted on Monday night. "We can not comment on classified programs". And along with Boeing Co., it has a contract with NASA to fly astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the "Commercial Crew" program, with the first crucial test flight scheduled for the second quarter. "We can not comment on classified missions".

A top-secret government mission launched by SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by tech mogul Elon Musk, may have failed on Sunday night. 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. The company chose SpaceX as the launch provider, noting late previous year that it took "great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma".

Last year was a banner year for the private space company with 18 launches.

A United States official and two congressional aides, all familiar with the launch, said on condition of anonymity that the second-stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster rocket failed.


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