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Elon Musk’s SpaceX appears to have lost a mysterious government payload known as “Zuma” in their latest rocket launch.
TechCrunch reports that SpaceX’s latest rocket had a successful launch but the payload being carried by the rocket, codenamed “Zuma” and believed to be a spy satellite for the U.S. government, was unable to separate from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket. The Zuma payload is believed to have fallen back through the Earth’s atmosphere due to the failure to separate, as the second stage of the rocket is designed to fall back to earth and burn up on re-entry. Since the Zuma payload was attached to the second stage, it very well may have been destroyed.
Falcon - Rocket - January - Stage - Booster
The Falcon 9 rocket launched as scheduled on January 7 and the first stage of the booster landed in SpaceX’s Cape Canaveral facility. The Zuma payload was contracted for launch by Northrop Grumman for the U.S. government, Northrop then selected SpaceX as the carrier of the payload. SpaceX had already been approved for flying U.S. government payloads after the company successfully launched the U.S. Air Force’s X-47B spacecraft.
The Zuma satellite was likely worth billions of dollars, making this the second billion-dollar payload that SpaceX has lost in just two years. In September 2016, Facebook’s internet satellite was destroyed when the Falcon 9 rocket carrying it exploded. Contracts of this nature can be extremely lucrative, meaning that this could be...
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