Top Secretive Zuma Mission Launch Postponed By SpaceX

The mysterious launch of the Zuma spacecraft by the U.S. aerospace firm SpaceX was rescheduled for a later date with the aim to review “data from recent fairing testing for another customer.”

“Though we’ve preserved the range opportunity for tomorrow, we’ll take the time needed to complete the data review and then confirm a new launch date,” the company tweeted on Thursday.

Set to take off from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, SpaceX, the California based firm belonging to Elon Musk of Tesla fame, has not targeted to launch of Zuma spacecraft one a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

This will be Falcon 9’s 17th flight in 2017. A highly classified government satellite that has been built by the defense contractor Northrop Grumman and scheduled to be put into low earth orbit, is perhaps the most secretive payload yet for SpaceX.

The purpose of the mission is not known but it has been codenamed Zuma. The government agency behind the launch or the type of spacecraft that is going up is yet unclear.

It was about the month ago that media reports made this launch pubic. News reports talked about the documents that SpaceX used to file for permission and authorization from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for a launch license which was codenamed as Mission 1390. Northrop Grumman built Zuma and is believed to be commercially contracted, built, and operated clandestine spacecraft. The craft was commissioned on contract by the U.S. government.

There have been 19 past instances that SpaceX has managed to returned and successfully re-landed a Falcon 9’s first stage rocket back on earth – either on land or at sea. These reuse of rockets is SpaceX’s strategy for the development of fully reusable rockets. The company believes that this would ultimately bring down spaceflight costs drastically.

However, there have also been earlier occasions that SpaceX has sent something secret into space. While being slated to launch more secretive payloads in the next couple of years, the company has already made two such secretive launches this year after the company got certification in 2015 for launching of military satellites.

A launch of an uncrewed X-37B space plane on Sept. 7 that was sent on the OTV-5 mission for the U.S. Air Force followed the delivering of the NROL-76 spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office by Falcon 9 in May.

Ignition of a leaking propellent caused an explosion to the test stand while SpaceX was conducting test of its next-generation model earlier this month, according to media reports.

The accident has dented an otherwise very good year for SpaceX when, in 2017, the company successfully completed 16 missions and have been also able to get back to earth 13 of the 16 rockets used for reuse.

(Adapted from News.xinhuanet.com)

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