Lawmakers look into SpaceX launch that ended with lost satellite

SpaceX says it didn't lose the Zuma spy satellite and is preparing to launch Falcon Heavy

SpaceX president confirms successful launch of government spy satellite Zuma

SpaceX launched two other national security missions past year: a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office and the Pentagon's autonomous space plane, known as the X-37B.

After the launch of U.S. spacecraft Zuma via Falcon 9 rocket of SpaceX, news regarding the failure of the mission started to surface. The mission control room clapped and cheered a few seconds later as the Falcon 9 split into two stages. The media did credit the source of information to an anonymous USA government official confirming the failure of the mission.

Tim Paynter, a spokesman for Northrop Grumman Corp.(NYSE:NOC), which manufactured the satellite and chose SpaceX for the mission, declined to comment on the coupling, saying "we can not comment on classified missions". As far as we can tell from reporting by both the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, the Zuma satellite failed to successfully separate from the upper stage.

It is noted that the device, built by Northrop Grumman, has not reached the calculated height and could not be separated from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket.

"For clarity: after reviewing of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night".

Zuma was built for the US government, although it is unclear which part of the government.

Roughly eight minutes after taking off, stage one of the Falcon 9 touched down at Landing Zone 1.

SpaceX's Shotwell said in a statement that since no rocket changes are warranted for upcoming flights, the company's launch schedule remains on track.




During a livestream of Sunday's launch, SpaceX said it got successful confirmation that the fairing - the clamshell-like covering for payloads at the tip of the rocket - did deploy.

Congressional inquiries into the satellite failure may revive debate about SpaceX's rivalry for military contracts with United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp.

In 2015, SpaceX was certified by the U.S. Air Force to launch national security satellites.

"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.

"SpaceX is saying "'everything performed as expected, it's not our fault,"' Marco Caceres, senior analyst and director of space studies with the Teal Group, said in an interview.

Shotwell went on to state that this latest mishap will have no bearing on future SpaceX launches, and that Falcon Heavy is being prepped for its maiden flight.

Northrup Grumman, the maker of the payload, said it was for the USA government and would be delivered to low-Earth orbit, but offered no other details. Another Falcon 9, meanwhile, is scheduled to fly in three weeks with a communication satellite for Luxembourg.

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