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10 Jan 2018

After US reportedly loses satellite, SpaceX defends its role

Responding to reports that it has lost a satellite on a classified mission, SpaceX claimed the Falcon 9 "did everything correctly" and contrary claims are "categorically false."

Aerospace contractor Northrup Grumman had hired SpaceX to launch the "Zuma" satellite into orbit on January 7.

However, government officials said things went wrong when the payload failed to separate from the second stage.

In context

Was SpaceX to blame for satellite Zuma's loss?
What went wrong in the mission?


What went wrong in the mission?

Little is known about the mission itself, not even which government agency was behind it.

The Falcon reportedly completed its first stage, lifting off towards space and safely landing back at Cape Canaveral.

But the satellite apparently didn't separate from the second, plunging through the atmosphere and burning up.

However, the lack of official word might mean another chain of events, said Dow Jones.


What does this mean for SpaceX?

This was SpaceX's first mission in 2018, its third for the US government. This was a critical mission considering it has been trying to establish itself as a low-cost launcher.

But despite the embarrassment, it is unlikely to hamper its appeal due to its extreme relative cheapness.

The company claimed this won't affect its launch schedule since the flaw wasn't in its rocket.

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SpaceX has assured it will report flaws if uncovered

It is possible that the failure occurred after a successful Falcon 9 launch, reported space.com. SpaceX, who is reviewing the issue, has assured that if it finds otherwise it will "report it immediately." Northrop Grumman has refused to comment, saying it's a classified mission.

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