Lost in space? Secret SpaceX Zuma satellite a total loss
Despite the launch being shrouded in secrecy, SpaceX seemed to have successfully carried a mysterious government satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Sunday. 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.
SpaceX has now landed Falcon 9 boosters a total of 21 times. However, SpaceX never officially confirmed the success of the mission.
On Monday, lawmakers were informed that the mission was “a total loss” and the payload plummeted back into the atmosphere when it failed to detach from the rocket, sources told the Wall Street Journal.
Zuma satellite from @northropgrumman may be dead in orbit after separation from @SpaceX Falcon 9, sources say. Info blackout renders any conclusion – launcher issue? Satellite-only issue? — impossible to draw. pic.twitter.com/KggCGNC5Si
— Peter B. de Selding (@pbdes) January 8, 2018
While the details are unknown, reports said the payload failed to detach from the second stage properly. The Zuma satellite was attached to the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, which is designed to fall back to Earth and burn up in reentry.
On Monday, Peter de Selding, the editor of Space Intel Report, cited sources who told him that the satellite “may be dead in orbit” after it separated from the SpaceX rocket.