Published: Wed, January 10, 2018
Sci-tech | By Carrie Guzman

Speculation Rampant As Secretive Zuma Spy Satellite Declared A 'Total Loss'

Speculation Rampant As Secretive Zuma Spy Satellite Declared A 'Total Loss'

An expensive, secret USA spy satellite with highly classified information may be lost in space, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

Due to the highly classified nature of the payload, however, it's unclear what exactly happened.

The mission itself was shrouded in secrecy even before it failed to enter a stable orbit.

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

Launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with a secret mission code-named Zuma, the satellite likely plummeted back into the atmosphere after failing to separate from the rocket, according to The Wall Street Journal.

But Gwynne Shotwell, president of Space Explorations Technologies, or SpaceX as its known, issued a statement saying any suggestion the aerospace company was responsible "categorically false".

"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", Shotwell said.

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SpaceX's new, powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, was at its launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday, awaiting an engine test-firing sometime this week.

This is a classified mission, so we're obviously working with limited information. A Northrop Grumman representative said the company can not comment on the mission due to its classified nature.

"We do not comment on missions of this nature; but as of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally", the statement added.

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.

Posted late Monday night in its official Twitter feed, a SpaceX picture showed the Falcon 9 launch and its first-stage landing.

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

It has been competing with other private companies to launch more military payloads. 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.

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