SpaceX-launched satellite isn't seen in orbit, Pentagon says


By all indications, SpaceX pulled off the Sunday launch of the secret Zuma spacecraft with no hitches, sending the second stage well on its way to the Low Earth Orbit as the first reusable stage nailed a pretty good landing eight minutes later in Cape Canaveral.

"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 said in the statement.

"For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night", SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement emailed to HuffPost.

"Zuma satellite from @northropgrumman may be dead in orbit after separation from @SpaceX Falcon 9, sources say", de Selding tweeted.

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

If the Falcon Heavy's maiden flight is successful, it will launch an Arabsat satellite built by Lockheed sometime early this year and will be used in the U.S. Air Force's Space Test Program-2 mission, which is comprised of military and scientific research satellites, as early as April.

Due to the highly classified nature of the payload, however, it's unclear what exactly happened.

If Zuma did indeed fail, it's possible the payload adapter Northrop Grumman built to deploy the satellite from the rocket itself malfunctioned.

The loss, if it was determined to be a failure of SpaceX hardware, could be a "real threat" to the company's future defense business, said Loren Thompson, defense analyst at the Lexington Institute.

WATCH Caught on camera SpaceX rocket explodes during testing
WATCH Caught on camera SpaceX rocket explodes during testing

"This is a classified mission".

The secretive nature of the Zuma payload makes reliable details about the mission hard to come by or verify.

But the spacecraft apparently did not separate as it was supposed to from the upper stage of the rocket and did not reach a stable orbit, according to a US administration official and two sources who were briefed on the matter.

But even if SpaceX's Falcon 9 performed perfectly, it is not a good time for the company, founded by Musk in 2002, to have something happen to such an important payload.

We spoke to a Northrup Grummam rep by phone, who said: "This is a classified mission".

According to an Instagram post in December, Musk said the first payload will be a red Tesla Roadster playing David Bowie's Space Oddity on a billion-year elliptical Mars orbit.

The massive Falcon Heavy, which has already been staged on a Cape Canaveral launchpad, stands 230 feet tall and consists of three Falcon 9 first-stage cores. Additionally, a SpaceX rocket carrying supply missions to the International Space Station for NASA exploded in 2015. However, rumors are now swirling that SpaceX actually failed the Zuma mission, especially after there was no confirmation that it was a success. The company has said it plans about 30 missions in 2018 after completing a record 18 past year.

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.

More news: 'Big Bang Theory' Will Likely End After Season 12, Johnny Galecki Says
More news: Real matric pass rate is 37.3%, not 75.1%
More news: Bit of snow on Saturday leads to minor accumulations