Science

Mystery surrounds fate of secret satellite slung by SpaceX

Sources say USA 'lost' absolutely-classified top-secret bird? You Musk be kidding

By Richard Chirgwin

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SpaceX and Northrop Grumman have refused to address rumors that all may not be well with the classified "Zuma" satellite launched on Monday.

Speculation about the fate of the satellite arose after the editor of Space Intel Report, Peter de Selding, noticed that after the expected satellite deployment, there was no word from SpaceX on Zuma's telemetry or orbital parameters.

de Selding noted that the 45th Space Wing had congratulated SpaceX on the successful launch, but has been silent since:

SpaceX has told two outlets – Dow Jones and Popular Mechanics – that its Falcon 9 rocket performed “nominally” for the launch but provided no further comment.

Popular Mechanics also noted speculation about another explanation, a “communications blackout” with the satellite (that is, the satellite's fine but the spooks aren't saying so).

Insiders have told Dow Jones that unnamed lawmakers have been briefed about the “apparent destruction” of Zuma, saying they were told it crashed back to Earth.

The Falcon 9 launcher returned to Earth successfully after the company's first mission for 2018. ®

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