SpaceX says rocket performed OK in secret satellite launch

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Quoting two anonymous USA officials, News website Time also said that the Zuma satellite, built by American aerospace and defence technology company Northrop Grumman, failed to separate from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket and is assumed to have broken up or plunged into the sea.

The mission itself was shrouded in secrecy even before it failed to enter a stable orbit.

The company doesn't anticipate any impact on its upcoming launch schedule, including a Falcon 9 mission in three weeks. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately.

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But SpaceX suggested that it was not at fault, telling ABC News its rocket, named Falcon 9, "did everything correctly". "We can not comment on classified programs".

SpaceX launched the secret Zuma spacecraft on Sunday night from the company's Space Launch Complex 40 pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. A Northrop Grumman representative said the company can not comment on the mission due to its classified nature.

But even if SpaceX's Falcon 9 performed perfectly, it is not a good time for the company, founded by Musk in 2002, to have something happen to such an important payload.

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Falcon Heavy-a modified variant of the Falcon 9 and equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft at full power-is due to be rolled out at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for static fire tests later this week. The company chose SpaceX as the launch provider, noting late a year ago that it took "great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma".

SpaceX will kick off 2018 with the secretive Zuma mission that will have the Falcon 9 deliver a mysterious payload to low-Earth orbit.

Several Apollo launches originated from mission launchpad 39A, including the first manned moon mission, Apollo 11, in 1969. However, the company has completed more than ten successful supply missions to ISS. Under mounting pressure from SpaceX, he was sacked, and ULA's new CEO, Tory Bruno, vowed to "literally transform" the company in order to compete with Musk - and he also continued to champion ULA's track record of successful launches.

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The loss of a classified, multi-billion-dollar government spy satellite is fast becoming a public black eye for private space transport and a whodunit mystery for industry watchers. And it plans to carry its first astronauts into space in its Dragon space capsule later this year.

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