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posted by martyb on Sunday January 07 2018, @10:00PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the frogs-in-space? dept.

[Update: The launch of the secret payload was reportedly a success. The Stage 1 booster returned to the LZ-1 landing pad at Cape Canaveral and landed successfully. If you missed the launch, SpaceX usually posts a recorded copy a few hours after launch at the same YouTube location as the live stream.]

SpaceX's Mysterious Zuma Mission May Finally Take Flight Sunday

Originally planned for a November launch, the mysterious Zuma mission may finally go to space on Sunday evening. SpaceX has confirmed that its rocket, and the undisclosed national security payload, are ready for launch, and weather conditions appear to be generally favorable. The two-hour launch window opens at 8pm ET.

An undisclosed issue with the Falcon 9 rocket's fairing caused SpaceX to delay the launch for several weeks in November and eventually move the date forward to January 4. Earlier this week additional propellant loading tests contributed to further delays, as did "extreme weather" at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida—mostly gusty winds.

But now conditions for the mysterious mission are 80-percent go, weather-wise, in Florida. This is SpaceX's third classified mission, and arguably its most secretive flight for the US military. All that is publicly known about the Zuma payload is that it is a satellite manufactured for the US government by Northrop Grumman, and it is bound for low-Earth orbit.

Source: https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/01/watch-live-spacexs-zuma-mission-may-finally-be-ready-to-zoom-into-space/

SpaceX to Launch Classified Zuma Mission: 0100-0300 UTC on 8th (8:00-10:00 p.m. EST on 7th)

According to Spaceflightnow, classified US Military mission payload Zuma, whose launch has been rescheduled several times, has a two-hour launch window coming up shortly.

Launch, and planned booster rocket return to base, are scheduled to be live-streamed on YouTube; coverage begins approximately 15 minutes before the launch window opens.

While waiting, consider partaking of a different kind of Zuma.


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

Related Stories

Zuma Failure Emboldens SpaceX's ULA-Backed Critics; Gets Support from US Air Force [Updated] 17 comments

[Updated: 2018-01-23 @ 00:58 UTC --martyb]

A more recent article at Ars Technica notes SpaceX gets good news from the Air Force on the Zuma mission:

A little more than two weeks have passed since the apparent loss of the highly classified Zuma mission. Since then, SpaceX has publicly and privately stated that its Falcon 9 rocket performed nominally throughout the flight—with both its first and second stages firing as anticipated.

Now, the US Air Force seems to be backing the rocket company up. "Based on the data available, our team did not identify any information that would change SpaceX's Falcon 9 certification status," Lieutenant General John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, told Bloomberg News. This qualified conclusion came after a preliminary review of data from the Zuma launch. That's according to Thompson, who said the Air Force will continue to review data from all launches.

[Original story follows]

Ars Technica has described how "far-right" critics of SpaceX (such as The Federalist) have attacked the company following the apparent failure to deploy a secretive "Zuma" spy satellite payload for the U.S. government. Northrop Grumman could be responsible for the failure of the payload to separate from the Falcon 9's second stage, but nobody will confirm that officially. During a recent hearing about commercial spaceflight, one Congressman brought up the claims of a Forbes hit piece written by the COO of an institute backed by the United Launch Alliance (ULA):

Northrop Grumman's Faulty Payload Adapter Reportedly Responsible for "Zuma" Failure 9 comments

Northrop Grumman, rather than SpaceX, is reportedly responsible for the loss of a secret satellite (reportedly) worth $3.5 billion:

In early January, SpaceX adamantly denied rumors that it had botched the launch of a classified spy satellite called Zuma, and now, a new government probe has absolved the company of blame for the spacecraft's loss. Government investigators looking into the mission determined that a structure on top of the rocket, called the payload adapter, failed to deploy the satellite into orbit, The Wall Street Journal reports. That adapter was built by defense contractor Northrop Grumman, which means SpaceX isn't at fault for Zuma's demise.

This scenario aligns with what many speculated at the time. SpaceX launched Zuma on top of its Falcon 9 rocket on January 7th, and just a day later, reports started to surface that the satellite had fallen back to Earth and burned up in the atmosphere after the mission. However, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell claimed that the rocket performed as it was supposed to. "For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night," she said in a statement. "If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately. Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false."

[...] Meanwhile, the payload adapter failure isn't a good look for Northrop Grumman, which is having a difficult time piecing together another important spacecraft right now: NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Northrop is the main contractor of the telescope and is currently integrating large pieces of the spacecraft at the company's facilities in Redondo Beach, California. However, NASA recently announced that James Webb's launch will have to be delayed until 2020, due to a number of mistakes and delays that were made at Northrop during the construction process.

SpaceX should demand to use its own payload adapters for any new classified/national security launches, because it will probably be granted in light of this "Beltway bandit" fiasco.

Also at CNBC and LA Times.

Previously: SpaceX's Mysterious Zuma Mission May Soon Take Flight
Rumors Swirl Around the Fate of the Secret "Zuma" Satellite Launched by SpaceX
Zuma Failure Emboldens SpaceX's ULA-Backed Critics; Gets Support from US Air Force [Updated]

Related: GAO: James Webb Space Telescope Launch Date Likely Will be Delayed (Again)
Launch of James Webb Space Telescope Delayed to May 2020, Could Exceed Budget Cap


Original Submission

Rumors Swirl Around the Fate of the Secret "Zuma" Satellite Launched by SpaceX 39 comments

A classified satellite launched by SpaceX on Sunday may be experiencing a classified failure:

Later on Monday afternoon another space reporter, Peter B. de Selding, reported on Twitter that he too had been hearing about problems with the satellite. "Zuma satellite from @northropgrumman may be dead in orbit after separation from @SpaceX Falcon 9, sources say," de Selding tweeted. "Info blackout renders any conclusion - launcher issue? Satellite-only issue? — impossible to draw."

Update: SpaceX said the Falcon 9 rocket performed nominally, but unnamed sources reportedly told the Wall Street Journal that the payload did not separate from the Falcon 9 second stage and that both fell into the ocean:

An expensive, highly classified U.S. spy satellite is presumed to be a total loss after it failed to reach orbit atop a Space Exploration Technologies Corp. rocket on Sunday, according to industry and government officials. Lawmakers and congressional staffers from the Senate and the House have been briefed about the botched mission, some of the officials said. The secret payload—code-named Zuma and launched from Florida on board a Falcon 9 rocket—is believed to have plummeted back into the atmosphere, they said, because it didn't separate as planned from the upper part of the rocket.

The WSJ report has been disputed. Space-Track has catalogued the Zuma payload as USA 280, international designation 2018-001A, catalog number 43098, but that doesn't necessarily mean Zuma survived. CelesTrak lists the status as operational (search 43098 in NORAD Catalog Number field).

If the mission did fail, SpaceX could also blame Northrup Grumman for using their own payload adapter.

Also at CBS News, SpaceFlight Insider, Bloomberg, Popular Mechanics, CNBC, and USA Today.


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 07 2018, @10:04PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 07 2018, @10:04PM (#619299)

    The local news in San Diego said it was being launched from Vandenberg AFB.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by takyon on Sunday January 07 2018, @10:10PM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday January 07 2018, @10:10PM (#619301) Journal

      WFTV9 Orlando: Secret SpaceX 'Zuma' launch scheduled for Sunday [wftv.com]

      The new nine-engine rocket will launch from launch pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and will take the secret payload to a low orbit.

      Ars [arstechnica.com]:

      An undisclosed issue with the Falcon 9 rocket's fairing caused SpaceX to delay the launch for several weeks in November and eventually move the date forward to January 4. Earlier this week additional propellant loading tests contributed to further delays, as did "extreme weather" at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida—mostly gusty winds.

      But now conditions for the mysterious mission are 80-percent go, weather-wise, in Florida.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Sunday January 07 2018, @10:07PM (3 children)

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday January 07 2018, @10:07PM (#619300) Journal

    Military Industrial Complex Payload! Thye should have paid that $60m directly to SpaceX for BFR development instead!!!!!!!1

    While waiting, consider partaking of a different kind of Zuma [wikipedia.org].

    Cultural Appropriation by PopCap Games dev Jason Kapalka [twitter.com]!!! A culture and g_d died to make your shitty clone possible!

    With that out of the way, what else can you say? It's not Falcon Heavy, it's a Secret Payload, it has a mysterious-sounding name (much like the SPECTRE bug), it's not Falcon Heavy, and I guess I'll watch it live since I woke up.

    --
    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Sunday January 07 2018, @10:43PM (2 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 07 2018, @10:43PM (#619311) Journal

      With that out of the way, what else can you say? It's not Falcon Heavy, it's a Secret Payload, it has a mysterious-sounding name (much like the SPECTRE bug), it's not Falcon Heavy, and I guess I'll watch it live since I woke up.

      It probably has to launch first. Word is that SpaceX isn't going to launch the Falcon Heavy till Zuma is out of the way.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 07 2018, @10:17PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 07 2018, @10:17PM (#619304)

    Perhaps you were thinking of the secret city in Ariyona, about to be launched into low-earth orbit, Yuma? At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the Ravenger dude hands Yuma over to Quill, to replace the Waukegon that Ego had "smushed", and says it will hold hundreds of swans. Black swans.

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 08 2018, @03:16AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 08 2018, @03:16AM (#619382)

      Yuma?

      When TFS said partaking of a different kind of Zuma, my thoughts went to those folks back east whose cojones are about to freeze and how, right about now, they'd like to be somewhere near Malibu. [googleapis.com]
      (A smaller number zooms out.)

      Friday January 13 looks like it's going to be particularly awesome. [noaa.gov]

      -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by aristarchus on Monday January 08 2018, @05:09AM

        by aristarchus (2645) on Monday January 08 2018, @05:09AM (#619415) Journal

        Isn't it excessively hot in California, since the Liberals have stolen the Global warming from the Trumpers, New Yorkers, and Eastly Coasters in general, and now are about to lord it over them in ways they never could have possibly concieved, being Stable Genius and, like, really smart, but not smart enough to understand basic science. Oh, the Hugo Manatees!! And the James Joyce Ulysseus! And the Te Choaste what-ever he's written lately.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Geezer on Sunday January 07 2018, @10:29PM (1 child)

    by Geezer (511) on Sunday January 07 2018, @10:29PM (#619307)

    High-priority mission to provide global real-time golf course climate conditions to Officer's Clubs everywhere.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 08 2018, @03:41AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 08 2018, @03:41AM (#619388)

      Yes! Weather War! You're my hero today!

  • (Score: 2) by frojack on Sunday January 07 2018, @11:17PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 07 2018, @11:17PM (#619323) Journal

    All your missile are belong to your own village.

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 08 2018, @11:04PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 08 2018, @11:04PM (#619762)

    someone should update it

    also seems to be on ars site as well so it should be easy to copy and paste that to the revised summary

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