A Highly Classified Spy Satellite Has Been Destroyed. Probably

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SpaceX says its rocket did the job Sunday, even as rumors swirl that the satellite on board was lost shortly after launch.

Quoting two anonymous US officials, News website Time also said that the Zuma satellite, built by American aerospace and defence technology company Northrop Grumman, failed to separate from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket and is assumed to have broken up or plunged into the sea.

Company president Gwynne Shotwell said the rocket "did everything correctly" and suggestions otherwise are "categorically false", according to the Associated Press. That includes Northrop Grumman, which built the satellite for the US government. "Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible".

A Highly Classified Spy Satellite Has Been Destroyed. Probably
A Highly Classified Spy Satellite Has Been Destroyed. Probably

The mission was SpaceX's first launch of 2018 and the company's third classified launch for the USA government.

Last May was the first time SpaceX launched its first satellite for the USA military with its Falcon 9 rocket.

A highly classified U.S. spy satellite was reportedly lost after a failed SpaceX launch in Florida.

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Shotwell said in a statement that since no rocket changes are warranted for upcoming flights, the company's launch schedule remains on track. "We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks". SpaceX says it did what it was supposed to do - deliver a satellite into its intended orbit.

Langbroek said both photos show what appears to be a normal venting of excess fuel by the upper stage of the SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket after separating from its payload. These rumors are all the more interesting because we have no idea what Zuma was for or even what government agency was going to operate the satellite.

Strangely - and in yet another apparent contradiction - US Strategic Command told Bloomberg that its not tracking any new satellites.

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It was not immediately clear if the failure of this mission was due to problems with the SpaceX rocket, or with the Zuma spacecraft.

This could either indicate that there is nothing to add in addition to the new satellite entry, or that the Zuma satellite is no longer in orbit.

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