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Sunday’s launch of the satellite, code-named Zuma, looked like a success, but the cameras didn’t broadcast live stream completely, leaving viewers intrigued to where it had gone (Newsweek).
The news wire quoted two sources as saying the satellite is assumed to have broken up or plunged into the sea.
However, the president of SpaceX, Gwynne Shotwell, defended the performance of its rocket in a statement carried by the Financial Times:
“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. Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false. Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible.”
The failure of the mission hasn’t been confirmed. However, spokespeople for both Northrop Grumman Corp and the Pentagon refused to answer questions.
Tim Paynter, a spokesman for Northrop Grumman Corp said: “We cannot comment on classified missions.” Army Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis, the Pentagon spokesman for space policy, referred questions to SpaceX. (Bloomberg)
Zuma is SpaceX’s third mission as part of its strategy of delivering sensitive military payloads into orbit. Owned by Tesla’s billionaire CEO, Elon Musk, SpaceX is the only private space launch company ever to return a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit.