The Falcon 9 rocket was able to make a successful powered landing back on the ground after separating from the upper stage. The satellite could have stopped working on orbit - or, if it failed to separate from the second stage, it could have tumbled back toward Earth, she said.
While it appeared that the launch went off without a hitch, the full launch and separation of the nose cone, which surrounded the secret satellite, was not streamed as it normally is, due to the classified nature of the mission.
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. Aerospace and defense company Northrup Grumman-which worked on the mission with SpaceX on behalf of the government-told Space.com its function was "restricted" and was being fired into "low-Earth orbit".
As for Northrop Grumman, the manufacturer of the Zuma satellite, it simply added "we can not comment on classified missions". The last Corporation in the launch previously collaborated with the Alliance ULA (United Launch Alliance), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, not SpaceX.
These reports are partially based upon a briefing supposedly given to lawmakers and congressional staffers indicating that the satellite did not separate from the rocket as planned.
SpaceX is slated to demonstrate the maiden flight of Falcon Heavy, a larger and more powerful rocket, later this month.
Zuma mission launch on January 7 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. These rumors are all the more interesting because we have no idea what Zuma was for or even what government agency was going to operate the satellite. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately.
SpaceX is led by Elon Musk and has been rapidly expanding its launch business, which includes NASA, national security and commercial missions. The company has said it plans about 30 missions in 2018 after completing a record 18 past year. Another Falcon 9, meanwhile, is scheduled to fly in three weeks with a communication satellite for Luxembourg.
"This is a typical industry smear job on the "upstart" trying to disrupt the launch industry", Desch said on Twitter on Thursday in response to a news article.
The satellite launch was originally scheduled for November 15, but SpaceX pushed it back to review how the Falcon 9 delivers its payload.
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