Secret US spy satellite may be lost in space after SpaceX launch


But all these are only rumors and due to the lack of reliable information as well as secretive nature of the mission, what happened to Zuma is still unclear.

The Heavy's static fire tests comes just days after SpaceX a Falcon 9 rocket apparently failed to put the Zuma spy satellite built by Northrop Grumman ( NOC ) into orbit.

The satellite is highly classified.

The secret USA government Zuma satellite, and little information about what happened to it has been released.

Tim Paynter, a spokesman for Northrop Corp., which was commissioned by the Defense Department to choose the launch contractor, said "we can not comment on classified missions", and army lieutenant colonel Jamie Davis, the Pentagon's spokesman for space policy, referred questions to SpaceX. The satellite was lost, one of the congressional aides said, and the other said both the satellite and the second-stage satellite fell into the ocean after the failure. In 2017, SpaceX completed 18 launches.

"After review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly", SpaceX Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement Tuesday. If additional reviews uncover any problems, she said, "we will report it immediately". Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false. "We can not comment on classified missions", Tim Paynter, Vice President for the company, said earlier.

Shotwell added: "Since the data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed, we do not anticipate any impact on the upcoming launch schedule". Falcon Heavy has been rolled out to launchpad LC-39A for a static fire later this week, to be followed shortly thereafter by its maiden flight. What we know for sure is that the first stage of the rocket behaved nominally enough such that it was able to safely return to Earth and make a land-based landing along the Florida coast.

A photograph taken by a Dutch airline pilot, Peter Horstink, flying near Sudan coupled with analysis by Dutch amateur satellite tracker Marco Langbroek (@Marco_Langbroek) supports the assessment that the second stage performed as expected. That would have been about 1 1/2 orbits and normal for a second stage.

But Strategic Command aren't the only ones who use radar and telescopes to track objects in orbit.

But what has become as much a mystery is Zuma's fate.

This was SpaceX' s third classified mission for the USA government, a lucrative customer.

With a price tag of $62 million, the Falcon 9 was designed as a two-stage rocket, becoming the world's first orbital-class rocket with reflight capability.

In short, SpaceX appears to be shrugging its shoulders as it prepares to launch yet another Falcon 9 rocket and its first Mars-capable rocket, Falcon Heavy (a launch vehicle that's essentially three times as powerful as a Falcon 9).

But the spacecraft apparently did not separate as it was supposed to from the upper stage of the rocket and did not reach a stable orbit, according to a USA administration official and two sources who were briefed on the matter.