After Zuma, SpaceX keeps pace in preps for next Falcon 9 launch
- Author: Ronnie Bowen Jan 14, 2018,
Jan 14, 2018, 0:09
SpaceX and the Pentagon did not respond to requests for comment about the nature of the mission.
To confuse matters further, the Falcon 9's first stage was able to successfully land back on Earth, indicating that the rocket was still fully operational.
Furthermore, NASA is counting on Elon Musk's company to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, with test flights as early as this year. But this isn't one. A second engine was meant to propel stage two-which carried Zuma-into low-Earth orbit. A spokesperson for the huge defense contractor declined to comment on Zuma after Sunday night's launch.
That would explain SpaceX's account of a flawless launch, while also squaring with the satellite is a total loss. The company chose SpaceX as the launch provider, noting late past year that it took "great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma". "ORCRP009161-topic.html" class="local_link" >Lockheed Martin Corp. called United Launch Alliance.
In 2014, SpaceX sued again in an attempt to end the almost decade-long monopoly ULA held on national security launches, arguing that it should be able to compete for the lucrative launch contracts.
In the meantime, Falcon Heavy, like its smaller cousin the Falcon 9, will advance SpaceX's goal of cutting launch costs by reusing rockets.
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Reporters Sunday night expected confirmation from Northrop Grumman after officials confirmed the Zuma payload's successful launch, but the announcement never came.
Since the contracts became competitively bid, SpaceX was won two of three contests.
Langbroek wrote in a blog post that he believes the image shows the Falcon 9's upper stage dumping excess propellant after a de-orbit burn to drive it back into Earth's atmosphere. No one was hurt in either explosion, but the payloads, worth millions of dollars, were lost. As of now, SpaceX is moving ahead with its launch manifest. "Though we have preserved the range opportunity for tomorrow, we will take the time we need to complete the data review and will then confirm a new launch date".
As for Zuma's fate, little is known. The company has said it plans to seek certification from the Air Force for the Falcon Heavy for future national security launches. "Falcon Heavy has been rolled out to launch pad LC-39A for a static fire later this week, to be followed shortly thereafter by its maiden flight".
"It's a particular nightmare if nothing went wrong on their part and they can't prove it because of the classified nature of the mission", he said.