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Space & Astronomy

SpaceX launches mystery government satellite

By T.K. Randall
January 8, 2018 · Comment icon 20 comments

The launch of the secretive payload was a success. Image Credit: SpaceX
Code-named Zuma, the secretive satellite was launched in to orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday night.
As usual with SpaceX launches, the Falcon 9's booster stage landed again a few minutes later, however the mission's live feed was cut after the payload separated to help maintain secrecy.

Some amateur satellite trackers have suggested that Zuma could be some sort of experimental spacecraft designed to test out new technologies, however this remains purely speculative.
It is the third payload relating to matters of national security launched by SpaceX within the last few months, with the other two being a National Reconnaissance Office satellite which launched back in May and the Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane which headed up in September.

Whether we will ever find out the true nature of this latest mission however remains to be seen.

Source: USA Today | Comments (20)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #11 Posted by a vampire wears my boxers 7 years ago
pffft, everyone knows nobody would get past the Reptilian secretary in the lobby/precious fluid extractor...geez c'mon maaaaan
Comment icon #12 Posted by a vampire wears my boxers 7 years ago
Is what i was thinking as well. I so wanted to call shenanigans, but he is a cool dude. Didn't want to cause any sort of rift. Wife and I are close to several folks that say some wacky know....bless their hearts...    
Comment icon #13 Posted by bison 7 years ago
There are now photos of spiraling rocket plumes, apparently from the SpaceX  Zuma launch. The timing for the rocket to be passing over the area of Africa where the photos were taken reportedly matches. Please find a link to article with the photos, below:  Northrup Grumman Aerospace is now citing the classified nature of the mission, in refusing to comment on reports that the Zuma satellite failed to reach orbit.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
That's perfectly normal. It's the upper stage venting fuel before re-entry and is not indicative of a problem.
Comment icon #15 Posted by pallidin 7 years ago
Is the fate of Zuma, good or bad, something that NASA and the DoD would officially share with the public, given its classified status? Or will we hear nothing more... that it made it or burnt-up?  
Comment icon #16 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
NASA definitely but not necessarily the DoD. If it is in orbit then the global network of amateur satellite trackers from around the world will find it. The fact that it has not been located a week after launch is making it look more and more likely that it did fail to go into orbit. SpaceX and Northrop Grumman (who manufactured the satellite) are both under contract to stay silent on anything to do with Zuma. As the government agency responsible for Zuma is keeping itself secret it seems unlikely that we will hear anything more about this satellite until at least some of the information is de... [More]
Comment icon #17 Posted by kartikg 7 years ago
any educated quess as to what was the satellite function? my guess is, it's a communications satellite for keeping in touch with operatives 
Comment icon #18 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 7 years ago
A single satellite in LEO? Not a chance.
Comment icon #19 Posted by Gromdor 7 years ago
I guess the was a malfunction and the billion dollar secret satellite was lost: The are saying it wasn't SpaceX's fault but rather Northrop Grumman.  Kinda sucks that a billion in tax payer dollars went kablooey.
Comment icon #20 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 6 years ago
Investigation into Zuma failure reportedly lays blame on Northrop Grumman  

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