However there has been no on-the-record confirmation of success or loss from SpaceX, the USA government (which paid for Zuma), or Northrop Grumman, which built the satellite, spacecraft, or whatever Zuma was.
Adding to the mystery, the satellite, categorized as United States of America 280, was still listed as a payload on orbit by the US space surveillance system as of Tuesday afternoon, said Laura Grego, a Caltech-trained physicist who is a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible", said SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell.
Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false.
"I'd have to refer you to SpaceX, who conducted the launch", said Dana White, the Pentagon's chief spokesperson, during a briefing with reporters Thursday.
SpaceX is scheduled to test fire its highly anticipated Falcon Heavy rocket at Kennedy Space Center this week ahead of a planned inaugural flight later this month. However, SpaceX made a decision to delay the launch to deal with some issues regarding the payload fairing (nose cone).
The next satellite assigned to fly on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has arrived at Cape Canaveral ahead of a planned January 30 liftoff from pad 40 on a previously-flown SpaceX booster. The Journal cited government and industry officials who were briefed on the mission and said the satellite didn't separate and plunged back into the atmosphere.
According to ArsTechnica, the company has stated that the rocket performed nominally in both the first and second stages during the launch. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately.More news: Facebook modifies news feed to bring family, friends closer
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This could either indicate that there is nothing to add in addition to the new satellite entry, or that the Zuma satellite is no longer in orbit.
Image the second stage of the Falcon 9 in the skies over Sudan appeared on numerous pictures in the network, which indirectly confirms normal operation of the rocket SpaceX. "We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks".
SpaceX has a six-hour window - from 1 p.m.to 7 p.m. - to fuel and test the 230-foot-tall rocket. However, if the Zuma failed to separate from the upper stage as multiple reports suggest, how does at least part of the blame not lay with SpaceX? A spokesperson for National Reconnaissance Office, which owns the US government's spy satellite fleet, said Zuma did not belong to that organization.
Already, rumors abound that Zuma was a satellite meant to monitor or intercept nuclear activities by North Korea and that the story about its failure is a matter of subterfuge.
But with the mission's classified nature, confirmation of Zuma's fate, and what may have gone wrong, remained elusive.
A Falcon 9 rocket is set to lift off in February from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the Spanish-owned Paz radar imaging satellite, and another Falcon 9 is slated to haul the Hispasat 30W-6 geostationary communications craft to orbit from Cape Canaveral some time in February.