SpaceX successfully landed the first stage of the Falcon 9, which is an important achievement so that it can be used in future launches to reduce the cost of sending rockets to space.
The launch was thought to have gone well until reports began to circle around the next day, from Ars Technica, Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal, that something went awry and that the classified satellite, named Zuma, was either missing or lost.
SpaceX on Tuesday defended the performance of one of its rockets used to launch a USA spy satellite that is believed to have been lost after failing to reach orbit, adding that no changes were anticipated to its upcoming launch schedule.
In a statement Tuesday morning, SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwel said, "After review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night".
A highly classified USA spy satellite was reportedly lost in a failed SpaceX mission in Florida.
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 additional reviews uncover any problems, she said, "we will report it immediately". If SpaceX is sure about the success of its rocket launch, then the question will arise against the Northrop Grumman Corporation that built the billion-dollar Zuma satellite.
SpaceX declined to comment further, citing the mission's classified status, as did Northrup Grumman, which manufactured the Zuma satellite and hired SpaceX as the launch contractor. Its secret USA government-sponsored payload, though, did not fare as well, according to sources.
Until government officials are willing to make a public statement about Zuma, its fate will remain a mystery.
A government official and two congressional aides, all of which are familiar with the matters of the Falcon 9 launch, anonymously said that the second stage of the rocket failed. SpaceX, along with Boeing Co, also 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". 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. According to one source, the payload fell back to Earth along with the spent upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket.
Falcon Heavy is SpaceX's massive new rocket that will boast three times the thrust of the Falcon 9.
As it usually does for classified launches, Loren Grush reports forThe Verge, SpaceX censored coverage of the launch, cutting its livestream prior to nose cone separation that would reveal the payload.
We'll update this story as new details emerge about the Zuma mission and its alleged failure. The company has said it plans to launch about 30 missions in 2018 after completing a record 18 past year.
Last year was a banner year for the private space company with 18 launches.