A Highly Classified Spy Satellite Has Been Destroyed. Probably

Запущенный SpaceX секретный спутник упал в океан

The second stage booster section of the Falcon 9 reportedly failed and the satellite and the rocket's second stage plummeted into the Indian Ocean after it was launched into orbit.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off Sunday with the USA government's mysterious Zuma payload.

For its part, SpaceX seems to be shifting the blame away from itself, and said in a statement, "We do not comment on missions of this nature; but as of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally".

SpaceX denied providing any comment related to the mission as it contained confidential information.

"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", Shotwell added. "Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible".

She said work to ready SpaceX's next launches remained on schedule, with the first hold-down firing of the company's new Falcon Heavy rocket planned this week at Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A.

Last year was a banner year for SpaceX, with 18 launches.

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell weighed in on the mystery in a statement emailed to Gizmodo.

But numerous news reports, citing unnamed government sources, said the satellite apparently re-entered Earth's atmosphere after failing to deploy from the Falcon 9's second stage.

"We have made a decision to stand down and take a closer look at data from recent fairing testing for another customer", said SpaceX communications director John Taylor at the time. The mission, backed by the United States government, has become the talk of the town because neither the agency behind the liftoff nor the Pentagon are taking responsibility or sharing details about it post the liftoff.

The satellite for the secret mission was built by Northrop Grumman Corp.

On Sunday night, the SpaceX's launch appeared to go smoothly. SpaceX has a six-hour window - from 1 p.m.to 7 p.m. - to fuel and test the 230-foot-tall rocket.

Reporters Sunday night expected confirmation from Northrop Grumman after officials confirmed the Zuma payload's successful launch, but the announcement never came. Currently, SpaceX is facing fierce competition from ULA, a launch provider operated by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, both of which have long relationships with various elements of the USA government.

Falcon Heavy is created to take heavier payloads to higher orbits, opening SpaceX's manifest to new capabilities. SpaceX had already been approved for flying U.S. government payloads after the company successfully launched the U.S. Air Force's X-47B spacecraft.

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