Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Mystery Swirls Around Faulty Zuma Rocket Launch

Article Written By: Kyle Tam


 Since the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a secret satellite called Zuma on January 7, little information has been released concerning the launch. Now, anonymous sources suggest that the satellite has failed or fallen to Earth.
 The mystery satellite, which is currently unclaimed by any US government agency or branch of military, was constructed by Northrop Grumman. Afterwards, the major aerospace company launched the satellite with the assistance of SpaceX.
 Unnamed government officials have told the Wall Street Journal and Reuters that the satellite failed to separate during the second stage of the rocket. Such a failure could be blamed on the rocket designed by SpaceX. However, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell has denied such allegations:

"After review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately. Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false. Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible. 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.”

 Northrop Grumman on the other hand has also declined to comment on the launch. According to documents obtained by Wired's Robin Seemangal, Northrop built a custom adapter to connect with the payload with the Falcon 9. By not using SpaceX's standard interface, this adapter could have also been another reason for the failure.

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