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To add to the mystery status of Zuma mission, the satellite is still categorized as a payload by the US space-based surveillance system. While the initial launch on Sunday using SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket went seemingly smooth, it emerged by next day that the mission had failed.

The next satellite assigned to fly on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has arrived at Cape Canaveral ahead of a planned January 30 liftoff from pad 40 on a previously-flown SpaceX booster. No further requests for communication were entertained by the company regarding the mission.

GovSat will share the satellite's communications capacity with Luxembourg's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies. The name is in line with the "USA" naming system used for spacecraft owned by the US military and government intelligence agencies.

The two-hour primary launch was livestreamed on the internet.

It should be noted that that the Zuma mission was originally slated to blast off in November 2017.

One of the most experienced trackers, an archaeologist named Marco Langbroek, shared an image taken by a Dutch pilot flying over Sudan around 2 hours and 15 minutes after the Falcon 9's launch from Cape Canaveral.

The Falcon Heavy also benefits from the development of its predecessor, the Falcon 9, said Phil Larson, assistant dean at the University of Colorado, Boulder's College of Engineering.

Zuma was SpaceX's third military launch.

Brian Mahlstedt, an automation software engineer at SpaceX, told live-stream viewers: "We're not going to show video coverage of it, but we will confirm that the fairings have separated, meaning that Zuma and second stage are the only vehicles continuing on to their final orbit". If so, it likely fell back to Earth with the rocket, which carried out pre-programmed instructions and was unable to receive new commands from the ground.

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"For clarity: after reviewing of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night".

Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false.

The company could not comment further, Shotwell said, because of Zuma's classified payload.

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.

Also, the future flights of SpaceX will remain scheduled as they were.

The maker of the billion-dollar Zuma spy satellite, defense contractor Northrop Grumman, refused to comment on the plight of its missing satellite.

"This is a classified mission", wrote Lon Rains, a Northrop Grumman spokesman, in an email to Spaceflight Now.

"There's a long tradition of not commenting on problems with classified missions, unless it blows up in such a way that everyone can see it", said John Logsdon, founder and former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University. SpaceX has a six-hour window - from 1 p.m.to 7 p.m. - to fuel and test the 230-foot-tall rocket.

The conflicting reports, coupled with the seemingly incongruous aftermath, are adding a rocket-load of mystery to an already mysterious launch.


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