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SpaceX, Pentagon wash hands of mysterious Zuma mission

SpaceX, Pentagon wash hands of mysterious Zuma mission

Little is known about the Zuma satellite - not even the name of the USA government agency that owns it. After a bitter legal and lobbying battle, the Pentagon certified SpaceX's Falcon 9 for the missions and now is relying on SpaceX to reliably fly its satellites to orbit. Since, the launching window is set to open on Jan 30 at 4:23 pm EST (2123 GMT) and continues to 134 minutes. The Falcon 9 won US Air Force certification for national-security space missions in May 2015, breaking a lock long-held by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp. The location and appearance of the sighting matched where the Falcon 9 and Zuma should have been orbiting, based on trackers' pre-flight predictions, and was similar to fuel dumps observed after other launches.

It was one of the most important things Elon Musk has ever launched into space: a government satellite so shrouded in secrecy that virtually everything about it is classified.

However, SpaceX issued a statement clarifying what had transpired during the launch.

"After review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night", Shotwell said.

Unnamed government officials and that the satellite, built by under the code-name "Zuma", failed to reach orbit and crashed back into the atmosphere.

"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", she said. As usual with classified government payload missions, the launch's livestream was cut off before the separation of the nose cone and the deployment of the satellite.

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Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false. "Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible", says SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell.

As SpaceX looks to increase its share of defense business, those customers are very much interested in reliability, said Carissa Christensen, chief executive of consulting firm Bryce Space and Technology.

As critics were quick to call SpaceX's reliability into question, the company rolled its new powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, onto the same launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center that hoisted the Apollo astronauts to the moon.

SpaceX has pushed back an historic test of the Falcon Heavy, the world's largest rocket.

Falcon Heavy is created to take heavier payloads to higher orbits, opening SpaceX's manifest to new capabilities. A spokesperson for National Reconnaissance Office, which owns the USA government's spy satellite fleet, said Zuma did not belong to that organization.

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