SpaceX says top secret spy satellite disappearing not their fault
Jan 11 2018
On Sunday, January 7, SpaceX successfully launched the secret Zuma mission through its Falcon 9 rocket.
"After review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night".
She went on to say the classified nature of the cargo kept her from saying anything else. According to the LA Times a spokesperson for Grumman declined to provide an explanation and said, "This is a classified mission".
This was SpaceX's third classified mission for the USA government, AP reported.
So if there was a problem, who's at fault? Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX that if their company or others find otherwise based on further reviews, they would report the same immediately. The satellite was said to have fallen back to Earth along with the second stage of the rocket. Government and industry officials have said that the payload failed to separate from the second stage of the rocket and plunged back into the atmosphere. In addition to the SatTrackCam Leiden analysis, the government did allow Shotwell to make that statement today, apparently not wanting the failure to weigh against SpaceX, but also intent on keeping Zuma's mission secret. "We can not discuss classified programs".
The loss, if it was determined to be a failure of SpaceX hardware, could be a "real threat" to the company's future defense business, said Loren Thompson, defense analyst at the Lexington Institute. The government agency that ordered the spacecraft has not been disclosed. But afterward, the US Strategic Command said it wasn't tracking any new satellites, an indication that the satellite somehow failed to deploy properly.
"Normally when you buy a rocket launch, you've paid for "the payload adapter on the rocket final stage pops the satellite off at the end".
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.
"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. Around 24 hours after the launch, Aerospace reporters Eric Berger at Ars Technica and Peter B.de Selding at SpaceNews.com began reporting that the payload might be lost. The fact that SpaceX is proceeding with its launch plans, including an imminent static fire test in preparation for the upcoming first launch of the new Falcon Heavy rocket, demonstrates that SpaceX is convinced all is well technically.
"Since the data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed, we do not anticipate any impact on the upcoming launch schedule", Shotwell said in the statement.
Even without clarity on what went wrong, the mishap represents a possible turnabout for Musk, who was coming off a record year of launches and rounds of fundraising that rendered his closely held company one of the most valuable startups in the world.
This article was originally published at 10:20 a.m.