Zuma lifted off from SpaceX's Space Launch Complex-40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL on Sunday evening at 8:00 pm ET in what appeared to be a flawless Falcon 9 launch and landing of the first stage. What, if anything, happened to the top secret Zuma payload launched on a SpaceX rocket Sunday?
SpaceX's review so far indicates that 'no design, operational or other changes are needed, ' Shotwell said.
Company president Gwynne Shotwell said the rocket "did everything correctly" and suggestions otherwise are "categorically false", according to the Associated Press.
A highly classified United States spy satellite is missing after a SpaceX launch from Florida on Sunday, The Wall Street Journal has reported. All that is known about it publicly is that it was built by Northrop Grumman for a US government customer, but not which agency ordered it.
Northrop Grumman, the aerospace and defense company that built the Zuma spacecraft, would only say: "This is a classified program". The sources would not confirm what exactly the payload was, saying it was classified.
The Zuma mission was a clear success on at least one count: SpaceX successfully landed the rocket's first stage for reuse in a future launch, a key step in its goal to drive down the cost of access to space.
But the spacecraft apparently did not separate as it was supposed to from the upper stage of the rocket and did not reach a stable orbit, according to a US administration official and two sources who were briefed on the matter.
Until government officials are willing to make a public statement about Zuma, its fate will remain a mystery.
Even without clarity on what went wrong, the mishap represents a possible turnabout for Musk, who was coming off a record year of launches and rounds of fundraising that rendered his closely held company one of the most valuable startups in the world.
This was SpaceX's third classified mission for the USA government, a lucrative customer.
We spoke to a Northrup Grummam rep by phone, who said: "This is a classified mission". Falcon Heavy has been rolled out to launchpad LC-39A for a static fire later this week, to be followed shortly thereafter by its maiden flight.
The failure comes at a sensitive time for SpaceX, which has recently been trying to establish itself as a low-priced launcher for Pentagon missions.
According to an Instagram post in December, Musk said the first payload will be a red Tesla Roadster playing David Bowie's Space Oddity on a billion-year elliptical Mars orbit. The company doesn't anticipate any impact on its upcoming launch schedule, including a Falcon 9 mission in three weeks. Additionally, a SpaceX rocket carrying supply missions to the International Space Station for NASA exploded in 2015. The company's spokesman Lon Rains said, "This is a classified mission".
Last year was a banner year for the private space company with 18 launches. The launch appeared to go smoothly, and SpaceX cheered a successful liftoff and then the touch down of its first-stage booster back on land.