March 21, 2018

Pentagon sticks to no comment on secret satellite that vanished

12 January 2018, 03:08 | Lucia Cruz

The unit was not able to reach the calculated height

Запущенный SpaceX секретный спутник упал в океан

Lawmakers said they will receive classified briefings on a secret U.S. government satellite that apparently crashed into the sea after it was launched by Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp.

The highly classified and expensive government satellite launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral has reportedly been destroyed. The mission control room clapped and cheered a few seconds later as the Falcon 9 split into two stages. However, these censored bits are par for the course when it comes to SpaceX's missions for the government.

SpaceX denied providing any comment related to the mission as it contained confidential information.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the satellite failed to separate properly during the second stage of the mission and dived back into the Earth's atmosphere which caused the failure of the designated mission.

Northrop Grumman built the multibillion-dollar satellite, code-named Zuma, and was responsible for choosing the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle, both officials said.

The Falcon 9 booster successfully made it back to earth under its own power. This points out to the fact that the satellite made it to the orbit and made at least one round of the orbit.

For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night.

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Zuma was built for the USA government, although it is unclear which part of the government. That would have been about 1? orbits and normal for a second stage.

SpaceX's Shotwell said in a statement that since no rocket changes are warranted for upcoming flights, the company's launch schedule remains on track.

SpaceX is led by Elon Musk and has been rapidly expanding its launch business, which includes NASA, national security and commercial missions.

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. After an extensive Air Force review, SpaceX was certified in 2015 to compete for military launches.

"The most important issue here is whether the Pentagon will rethink its reliability as a provider of launch services", said Thompson, whose think tank receives funding from Boeing and Lockheed.

Last year was a banner year for the private space company with 18 launches.

But Marco Caceres, senior space analyst at Teal Group, said SpaceX's cheaper launch costs and faster turnarounds for missions will still probably work in its favor with the Air Force, even if the Zuma mission were determined to be a launch failure. If additional reviews uncover any problems, she said, "we will report it immediately". Another Falcon 9, meanwhile, is scheduled to fly in three weeks with a communication satellite for Luxembourg.

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