It's not official, but sources say the secretive Zuma satellite was lost


Falcon Heavy-a modified variant of the Falcon 9 and equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft at full power-is due to be rolled out at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for static fire tests later this week.

SpaceX's review so far indicates that 'no design, operational or other changes are needed, ' Shotwell said.

"For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night", Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer for SpaceX, said in an emailed statement to Newsweek.

"There's a long tradition of not commenting on problems with classified missions, unless it blows up in such a way that everyone can see it", John Logsdon, founder and former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, told Bloomberg News.

The launch falls on the heels of Sunday's Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station that attempted to send the secretive Zuma satellite into space. That includes Northrop Grumman, which built the satellite for the USA government.

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Reports have said that defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corporation-which built the satellite-chose Elon Musk's SpaceX as its launch vehicle. The sources would not confirm what exactly the payload was, saying it was classified.

However, the key part connecting the Zuma payload to the rocket wasn't made by SpaceX.

Musk has also said the first launch, expected by the end of January, will use previously flown rocket outer cores, as SpaceX continues to make the push for reusable rockets to help lower launch costs and keep it competitive against United Launch Alliance, a Boeing- Lockheed Martin ( LMT ) joint venture.

Still shrouded in mystery. "We can not comment on classified programs". The satellite was lost, one of the congressional aides said, and the other said both the satellite and the second-stage satellite fell into the ocean after the failure. According to the LA Times a spokesperson for Grumman declined to provide an explanation and said, "This is a classified mission". The company doesn't anticipate any impact on its upcoming launch schedule, including a Falcon 9 mission in three weeks.

Elon Musk tweeted that when it does lift off, the company plans to land all three first stages back on Earth, with two cores returning to land and a third to a droneship out in the Atlantic.

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The launch broadcast was cut off shortly after the rocket's nose cone separated, which is standard under secret national security missions.

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.

But the unknown dominated this mission. The company has said it plans to launch about 30 missions in 2018 after completing a record 18 previous year.

SpaceX is slated to demonstrate the maiden flight of Falcon Heavy, a larger and more powerful rocket, later this month.

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

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