It was said that Zuma failed to separate from the second stage of the Falcon 9, broke up in the air and fell into the sea.
Space Exploration Technologies Corp, led by entrepreneur Elon Musk, launched its first satellite for the U.S. military with its Falcon 9 rocket in May of a year ago. A spokesperson for National Reconnaissance Office, which owns the US government's spy satellite fleet, said Zuma did not belong to that organization.
SpaceX's resolve and relentless drive was unchanged by the mystery surrounding Zuma (which included the possibility that nothing went wrong, and the satellite was, indeed, on orbit). The catalogued object dubbed USA-280 could have been in error, as occurred after a failed Landsat satellite launch in the 1990s, or the payload may no longer be in orbit, assuming it re-entered with the Falcon 9 upper stage within a few hours of launch. SpaceX was able to land the booster's first stage, while the second stage continued to carry the secretive Zuma payload to its destination in low-orbit. The company has recently ramped up its launch pace, even launching two missions from opposite coasts within about 48 hours.
Caceres predicted SpaceX will probably proceed "with business as usual and try to keep with their very aggressive launch schedule".
The unmanned Falcon rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday night, carrying the satellite toward an undisclosed orbit.
And Northrop Grumman Corp., which built the satellite and chose SpaceX for the mission, said its normal procedures barred commenting on classified projects.
"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", Shotwell added.
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Rep. Mike Rogers, who heads the House Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee, said in a statement Wednesday that "space is a risky business" but his panel remains "committed to providing rigorous oversight that accounts for that risk and ensures that we can meet all of our national security space requirements as the Air Force looks to competitively procure space launch services in the future". "ORCRP009161-topic.html" class="local_link" >Lockheed Martin Corp. called United Launch Alliance. ULA has advertised the starting cost of its Atlas V rocket at $109 million.
But it has also had its setbacks. Then in 2016, another rocket exploded while being fueled ahead of an engine test.
In both cases, the company was grounded while it investigated the cause of those problems.
As for Zuma's fate, little is known.
"If we're talking about expanding exploration, it will be good to have more capabilities", said Olga Bannova, research associate professor and director of the space architecture graduate program at the University of Houston's college of engineering.
In 2015, SpaceX was certified by the U.S. Air Force to launch national security satellites.
Harrison, the defense analyst, said that SpaceX is in a frustrating position because it is limited in what it can say publicly about what happened. The venture's larger Delta IV rocket - the most powerful rocket now used by the Air Force to carry military satellites - is being phased out because it is costly to produce.