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SpaceX president confirms successful launch of government spy satellite Zuma

13 January, 2018, 01:38 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • SpaceX president confirms successful launch of government spy satellite Zuma

Space Exploration Technologies Corp, led by entrepreneur Elon Musk, launched its first satellite for the United States military with its Falcon 9 rocket in May of past year.

On its website, SpaceX says it has more than 70 upcoming missions on its launch manifest, which could take several years.

"Now is not a good time for questions about SpaceX's ability to deliver what that community wants, which is reliable performance", she said.

Despite the launch being shrouded in secrecy, SpaceX seemed to have successfully carried a mysterious government satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Sunday. But Shotwell reiterated in a statement Tuesday morning that "after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night".

The Falcon 9 rocket was able to make a successful powered landing back on the ground after separating from the upper stage. The company later said it had cleared the issue.

The GovSat 1 satellite, also known as SES 16, is owned by GovSat, a public-private joint venture between the government of Luxembourg and SES. The payload was meant to be launched into low-Earth orbit.

Phil Larsen, who previously worked in the press service of SpaceX, as well as in 2009-2014 held the post of senior adviser for space and innovation in the administration of the 44th President Barack Obama, remarked that the publication of The Wall Street Journal "does not contain a key fact", according to which the adapter payload (it separates the payload from the rocket) for Zuma made Northrop Grumman.

SpaceX declined to comment on the particulars, but in a statement to HuffPost was adamant there was no failure on its end.

To add to the mystery status of Zuma mission, the satellite is still categorized as a payload by the USA space-based surveillance system. The company has said it plans to seek certification from the Air Force for the Falcon Heavy for future national security launches. Stay with Spectrum News for more coverage of this developing story. Musk on Monday tweeted out a long-exposure picture of the launch showing its fiery tail to space - and then the return of the booster, which has now become routine for the company.

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

"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. 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. ULA has advertised the starting cost of its Atlas V rocket at $109 million. "The onus is on the Air Force or Grumman to prove otherwise", he said.

The Falcon Heavy will be carrying Musk's midnight cherry Tesla Roadster as its payload to ensure that the rocket works with heavy cargo aboard. But a failure would not be "devastating", she said, noting that the company is given credit for its ambitious goals.

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