Is Zuma Lost? SpaceX Said Its Rocket Did Everything Right

SpaceX president confirms successful launch of government spy satellite Zuma

The mission was initiated on a Sunday at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station located in Florida.

The Falcon 9 rocket was able to make a successful powered landing back on the ground after separating from the upper stage.

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

The mystery surrounding the failed launch of a secret military satellite by SpaceX shows no sign of ebbing down.

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

Matt Desch, chief executive officer of satellite operator Iridium Communications Inc., said that as the launch contractor, Northrop Grumman deserves the blame for the loss last weekend of the satellite, which is presumed to have crashed into the ocean in the secretive mission code-named Zuma.

SpaceX has pushed back an historic test of the Falcon Heavy, the world's largest rocket. The company has recently ramped up its launch pace, even launching two missions from opposite coasts within about 48 hours. As reports began to bubble Monday that the Zuma satellite may have plunged back toward Earth, the company issued a statement: "We do not comment on missions of this nature; but, as of right now, reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally".

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"If we're talking about expanding exploration, it will be good to have more capabilities", said Olga Bannova, research associate professor and director of the space architecture graduate program at the University of Houston's college of engineering.

That means something made it into orbit and went around at least once, though it doesn't necessarily mean the satellite is still there.

The attack, particularly targeted Northrop Grumman, the builders of the satellite who have remained low and did not give any explanation about the incident while SpaceX is taking all the heat. If that's confirmed by Defense Department investigators, it leaves open possibilities such as a failure in the coupling that was supposed to release the satellite from the rocket.

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.

With 27 engines generating 5.1 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, the Falcon Heavy rocket is one of SpaceX's most ambitious projects yet. 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". The location and appearance of the sighting matched where the Falcon 9 and Zuma should have been orbiting, based on trackers' pre-flight predictions, and was similar to fuel dumps observed after other launches. SpaceX said it would not comment beyond its statement.

A launch date for the maiden Falcon Heavy test flight has not been officially scheduled, but it could occur by the end of January.

In the meantime, Falcon Heavy, like its smaller cousin the Falcon 9, will advance SpaceX's goal of cutting launch costs by reusing rockets.

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