Lost in space? Secret SpaceX Zuma satellite a total loss

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The Falcon 9 booster successfully made it back to earth under its own power.

Northrop Grumman Corp, the company which made the satellite (and also selected SpaceX for the launch) refused to comment since all the information related to it is classified.

It is noted that the device, built by Northrop Grumman, has not reached the calculated height and could not be separated from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket. "We can not comment on classified missions". The spokesman for the corporation said that the company isn't at liberty to comment on a classified mission.

There are conflicting reports about what may have happened.

This was SpaceX' s third classified mission for the USA government, a lucrative customer.

The Falcon 9 rocket was able to make a successful powered landing back on the ground after separating from the upper stage. That would have been about 1? orbits and normal for a second stage.

One possible key to SpaceX's strong defense of its rocket could involve the question of who supplied a key piece of hardware: the payload adapter, which attaches a payload to the rocket. SpaceX said it would not comment beyond its statement.

To add to the mystery status of Zuma mission, the satellite is still categorized as a payload by the US space-based surveillance system.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the satellite failed to separate properly during the second stage of the mission and dived back into the Earth's atmosphere which caused the failure of the designated mission. Strapped to a Falcon 9 rocket, the craft carried a secret U.S. Government payload into orbit around Earth. 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". However, SpaceX chose to delay the launch to deal with some issues regarding the payload fairing (nose cone).

SpaceX has launched a secret satellite codenamed Zuma on its first flight of the new year.

In 2015, SpaceX was certified by the U.S. Air Force to launch national security satellites.

Congressional inquiries into the satellite failure may revive debate about SpaceX's rivalry for military contracts with United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp. The company later said it had cleared the issue.

"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.

"I think the rocket itself is considered an extremely reliable vehicle", he said. This year, it's aiming for more.

SpaceX's new, powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, was at its launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday, awaiting an engine test-firing sometime this week. If additional reviews uncover any problems, she said, "we will report it immediately".

The Falcon 9 and Zuma lifted off on-schedule at 8:00 p.m. ET January 7 from Cape Canaveral in Florida.