SpaceX launches secret Zuma craft for US government
08 January, 2018, 04:55
Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp successfully launched its first mission of the new year: a classified payload for the U.S. government into low-earth orbit.
SpaceX's first launch of 2018 was the classified Zuma mission, which lifted off earlier tonight at 8:00 p.m. EST. After the launch, the rocket's first stage will attempt to make a return to a landing site along the Florida coast for what would be the company's 21 rocket landing.
SpaceX just sent a secret government mission to space.
It will be carrying a secret payload for the US government, code-named Zuma.
What's particularly mysterious about Zuma is that spy satellites are usually claimed by the military agency that oversees them, known as the National Reconnoissance Office.
"Everybody involved with the mission is pretty tight-lipped about it", Space.com reported past year.
That is a move from the nearby NASA-owned Kennedy Space Center, where the launch was originally planned in November. That would place Zuma near the others once in orbit, perhaps not by coincidence.
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SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk's goal is to flawless the technique so that rockets can one day become just as reusable as airplanes, thereby lowering the cost of space travel.
After a record 18 launches in 2017, this mission will be SpaceX's first flight of the new year. It's aiming for more this year.
Buzz is building for an upcoming test-firing of 27 Merlin engines powering the new Falcon Heavy rocket, which features a first stage of three Falcon rocket boosters strapped together.
It is a big month for Musk's space exploration company.
SpaceX also has two more satellite missions that could fly in late January: a Spanish Earth observation craft launching from California, and a European communications satellite from Cape Canaveral.
The mission, code named "Zuma", is a Falcon-9 rocket launch, but it is unclear what the rocket is carrying. It's likely the feed will go live around 7:45pm ET, a few minutes prior to the launch window.
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