SpaceX defends rocket performance after loss of United States spy satellite

A Highly Classified Spy Satellite Has Been Destroyed. Probably.

Unnamed government officials told Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal that the satellite, built by Northrop Grumman under the code-name "Zuma," failed to reach orbit and crashed back into the atmosphere. Everything seemed fine on the dayas the spy satellite was launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket.

"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 we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", Shotwell added. "Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false".

The private rocket company typically broadcasts an entire satellite deployment via its livestream, but not for classified missions such as this one.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said on Twitter that SpaceX did not supply the payload adapter, which shoots the satellite off the rocket, for this mission. A Northrop Grumman representative said the company can not comment on the mission due to its classified nature.

In a statement, the Department of Defense said, "As a matter of policy we do not comment on classified missions".

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To confuse matters further, the Falcon 9's first stage was able to successfully land back on Earth, indicating that the rocket was still fully operational.

For example, Northrop Grumman provided its own payload adaptor for the Zuma mission - a device that physically separates the satellite from the upper part of the rocket during deployment.

The Zuma indent won't impact the schedule of SpaceX's upcoming launches, including the maiden flight of Falcon Heavy, the company said.

This is not the first time a payload was lost on a SpaceX mission.

The mishap comes on the heels of a particularly productive year for the private space company founded by billionaire Elon Musk, who plans to launch Falcon Heavy, created to carry humans into space, later this year. Since the last Space Shuttle flight in 2011, NASA has relied upon the Russian space agency to carry USA astronauts to the ISS.

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