Saturday, January 13, 2018

Questions mount over fate of SpaceX satellite

After reports the Zuma satellite suffered some sort of failure, SpaceX rushes to defend its reputation.

The top-secret satellite known only by a code name “Zuma” was a mystery from the start.

Its classified mission was intentionally inscrutable – whether to detect missile launches, spy on adversaries, or to track ships at sea with a space radar.

The satellite was so highly secretive that it was not publicly released what government agency – National Reconnaissance Office? Central Intelligence Agency? – was responsible for it.

During the launch last Sunday, SpaceX cut short its webcast so that it wouldn’t reveal any details of where the satellite was going or what it looked like.

Now there’s another mystery: What happened to Zuma?

After reports Monday that the satellite suffered some sort of failure, SpaceX rushed to defend its reputation, denying that it had done anything wrong. Its Falcon 9 rocket “performed nominally,” it said.

Then, on Tuesday morning, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell issued a more strongly worded statement, saying: “For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately.”

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