SpaceX Aims to Test Fire Falcon Heavy This Week


SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket seemed to lift off successfully from the pad at Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Sunday carrying a classified payload in a mission code-named Zuma, but the satellite has gone missing. Northrop Grumman declined comment, citing inability to comment on classified missions.

Lawmakers said they will receive classified briefings on a secret USA government satellite that apparently crashed into the sea after it was launched by Elon Musk's SpaceX.

A highly classified USA spy satellite was reportedly lost in a failed SpaceX mission in Florida.

So if there was a problem, who's at fault? "If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", Gwynne Shotwell, the company's president and chief operating officer, said in a statement to Business Insider.

Sources tell the Wall Street Journal that the payload failed to separate from the upper-stage of the rocket, causing the loss of the mission, and possibly the reason it either failed or fell back to Earth.

In May 2015, the U.S. Air Force privately certified SpaceX to launch U.S. military and spy satellites, breaking a monopoly by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

"This is a classified mission". The company's spokesman Lon Rains said, "This is a classified mission". The government agency that ordered the spacecraft has not been disclosed.

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"I think the rocket itself is considered an extremely reliable vehicle", he said. The satellite was destined for low-Earth orbit, Robin Seemangal wrote for Wired late a year ago, and unlike most launches, the satellite manufacturer Northrop Grumman, not SpaceX, supplied the payload adapter used to secure the satellite during launch and release it into orbit.

SpaceX launched two other national security missions past year: a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office in May and the Pentagon's autonomous space plane, known as the X-37B, in September. "Info blackout renders any conclusion - launcher issue?" All three cores of Falcon Heavy have been test fired individually at SpaceX's facilities in McGregor, Texas, but they have yet to light up together.

Originally scheduled for a November launch, Zuma was delayed by potential concern about another mission's payload fairing, the shell on top that protects a satellite during launch.

In short, SpaceX says everything worked right with their Falcon 9 rocket.

United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing created more than a decade ago to launch sensitive satellites for the Pentagon and intelligence community, has always been under fire from Elon Musk's SpaceX, the tenacious upstart that plowed its way into the market by waging war in Washington, D.C.

For years, the company has been in a heated battle with ULA over lucrative contracts to launch national security payloads, long seen by Musk as a key source of revenue.

SpaceX on Tuesday defended the performance of one of its rockets used to launch a U.S. spy satellite that is believed to have been lost after failing to reach orbit, adding that no changes were anticipated to its upcoming launch schedule.