Iridium sticks up for SpaceX, blames Northrop in satellite loss

Iridium sticks up for SpaceX, blames Northrop in satellite loss

Iridium sticks up for SpaceX, blames Northrop in satellite loss

The name refers to a Malibu beach in Southern California. A spokesperson for National Reconnaissance Office, which owns the US government's spy satellite fleet, said Zuma did not belong to that organization.

The satellite was so highly secretive that it was not publicly released what government agency - National Reconnaissance Office? "We are incredibly excited about the upcoming launch of this satellite".

Now there's another mystery: What happened to Zuma? "We can not comment on classified missions".

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", she said.

The intelligence satellite, built by Northrop Grumman Corp, failed to separate from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, according to U.S. officials. Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false.

If Zuma did indeed fail, it's possible the payload adapter Northrop Grumman built to deploy the satellite from the rocket itself malfunctioned.

But with the mission's classified nature, confirmation of Zuma's fate, and what may have gone wrong, remained elusive. But because it had fought so hard for the right to compete for national security launches. Later, the team will closed the satellite up inside the payload fairing of Falcon 9. The company has recently ramped up its launch pace, even launching two missions from opposite coasts within about 48 hours. Musk has said BFR could be used for missions ranging from taking satellites to low-Earth orbit to colonizing Mars. However, SpaceX censored critical portions of the launch, including the separation of the nose cone surrounding the top-secret Zuma satellite, and the satellite's actual deployment into earth's orbit. This year, it plans to break that record, continuing its disruption of an industry Musk first targeted when he founded SpaceX in 2002.

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SpaceX was originally set to launch the Zuma mission in November, but the company tweeted at the time that it was postponing the mission "to take a closer look at data from recent fairing testing for another customer".

Shotwell's statement emailed to reporters was an unusual one for SpaceX, which rarely comments on planned Falcon 9 flights before the week of launch.

"SpaceX is saying "'everything performed as expected, it's not our fault,"' Marco Caceres, senior analyst and director of space studies with the Teal Group, said in an interview. And I'd be glad to hold them accountable for things they should be held accountable for.

On Sunday night, the SpaceX's launch appeared to go smoothly. A recycled Falcon 9 booster stage that first flew May 1 with the USA government's classified NROL-76 payload will hoist the GovSat 1 spacecraft toward orbit, and a factory-fresh second stage will finish the job. And NASA is continuing work on its Space Launch System.

A launch date for the maiden Falcon Heavy test flight has not been officially scheduled, but it could occur by the end of January.

The launch was an important one for the California-based company founded almost 16 years ago. "ORCRP009161-topic.html" class="local_link" >Lockheed Martin Corp. called United Launch Alliance. Meanwhile, ULA maintained that responsibility for vital national security satellites that cost hundreds of millions should not just be decided on price. It's shooting for even more flights in 2018.

Since the contracts became competitively bid, SpaceX was won two of three contests. As of now, SpaceX is moving ahead with its launch manifest. Lawmakers are receiving classified briefings on the lost satellite. After an extensive Air Force review, SpaceX was certified in 2015 to compete for military launches. The venture's larger Delta IV rocket - the most powerful rocket now used by the Air Force to carry military satellites - is being phased out because it is costly to produce.

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