Monday, 22 January, 2018

SpaceX postpones 'static test' fire of Falcon Heavy engines

SpaceX denies losing spy satellite SpaceX president confirms successful launch of government spy satellite Zuma
Theresa Hayes | 12 January, 2018, 09:12

Aerospace and defense company Northrup Grumman-which worked on the mission with SpaceX on behalf of the government-told Space.com its function was "restricted" and was being fired into "low-Earth orbit".

Citing government and industry officials who were briefed on the mission, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday night that the satellite did not separate as intended after the firing of the rocket's second stage.

However, cameras did not follow stage two of the rocket, and reports suggest Zuma may not have reached its final orbit.

Shotwell went on to state that this latest mishap will have no bearing on future SpaceX launches, and that Falcon Heavy is being prepped for its maiden flight.

SpaceX will fly the rocket on manned and unmanned Mars missions in the coming years. It was said that Zuma failed to separate from the second stage of the Falcon 9, broke up in the air and fell into the sea. SpaceX said it would not comment beyond its statement.

Originally planned to launch back in November, Zuma had a secret payload for the US government.

Originally scheduled for a November launch, Zuma was delayed by potential concern about another mission's payload fairing, the shell on top that protects a satellite during launch.

The satellite launch was SpaceX's third national security mission, and another step toward potentially high-paying contracts through the Department of Defense, Ars Technica. The last Corporation in the launch previously collaborated with the Alliance ULA (United Launch Alliance), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, not SpaceX. Questions remained about which national security agency the satellite would have served, as well as its fate. The company later said it had cleared the issue.

Iridium is one of SpaceX's largest commercial satellite customers, with four launches in the past 12 months from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's central coast and four upcoming launches listed on SpaceX's manifest.

Northrup Grumman, the maker of the payload, has said it was for the U.S. government and would be delivered to low-Earth orbit, but offered no other details.

Astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell notes that "usually, when you buy a missile launch, you pay for the adapter payload on the upper stage of the rocket, therefore the spacecraft separation from the rocket could be a problem, Northrop Grumman, and SpaceX is not". "We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks".