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SpaceX says rocket worked fine as spy satellite reported lost

SpaceX says rocket worked fine as spy satellite reported lost

SpaceX's 23-minute webcast of the Zuma launch Sunday evening included the Falcon 9 launch, confirmation that the fairings deployed, and the rocket's first-stage recovery on land in Florida.

But the spacecraft apparently did not separate as it was supposed to from the upper stage of the rocket and did not reach a stable orbit, according to a USA administration official and two sources who were briefed on the matter.

The secretive nature of the Zuma payload makes reliable details about the mission hard to come by or verify. It was so shrouded in secrecy that the sponsoring government agency was not even identified, as is usually the case.

This was SpaceX's third classified mission for the USA government, a lucrative customer. SpaceX has also declined to give details about the spacecraft.

"We can not comment on classified missions", Tim Paynter, Vice President for the company, said earlier.

Actions taken by SpaceX on Monday indicate its confidence in the rocket's performance during the Zuma launch. First SpaceX will perform what is known as a wet dress rehearsal, filling the rocket with fuel and performing all systems checks short of engine ignition.

"After review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night", said the statement from Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX. If additional reviews uncover any problems, she said, "we will report it immediately". Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the classified Zuma payload, January 7, 2018.

Falcon Heavy-a modified variant of the Falcon 9 and equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft at full power-is due to be rolled out at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for static fire tests later this week.

Last March, a Falcon 9 was relaunched into space-the first time an orbital rocket was reused.

The Zuma incident would not impact the schedule of SpaceX's upcoming launches, including the maiden flight of Falcon Heavy, the company said as quoted by the ABC News.

SpaceX typically supplies such an adapter but reportedly did not for this mission. Additionally, a SpaceX rocket carrying supply missions to the International Space Station for NASA exploded in 2015.

The end goal for the Hawthorne, California-based company will be to prove the utility of the rocket that can lift more than twice the payload of competitor United Launch Alliance's Delta IV Heavy.

Zuma, the code-name of the clandestine payload - likely a next-generation spy or communications satellite - most likely broke apart and crashed into the ocean, according to the Wall Street Journal, NBC, and other outlets. And it plans to carry its first astronauts into space in its Dragon space capsule later this year.

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