SpaceX says rocket performed OK in secret satellite launch

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A pair of spectacular images of an ethereal spiral in the night sky may show the upper stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket after it launched a secret satellite for the USA government on Sunday night (Jan. 7).

A SpaceX spokesperson told Business Insider, "We do not comment on missions of this nature; but as of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally".

SpaceX did not report any problems with the launch; however, while the company usually announces a successful launch regardless of the classification of the payload, no confirmation was given by SpaceX or Northrup Grumman, the company that manufactured the secret satellite.

The rocket's first stage completed its job and landed back at Cape Canaveral following liftoff.

However, The Wall Street Journal cited industry and government officials as saying that politicians on Capitol Hill had been briefed on the mission's failure and that the secret payload had failed to detach from the Falcon 9.

As they battled with SpaceX, ULA's executives launched a "results over rhetoric" campaign, highlighting the company's long heritage in space. "We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks". If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately.

Successful landing of the first-stage.

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Northrop Grumman declined to comment, instead releasing a tight-lipped statement.

SpaceX's Shotwell said in a statement that since no rocket changes are warranted for upcoming flights, the company's launch schedule remains on track.

The comments from SpaceX are thus in contradiction with what's being reported elsewhere.

A veil of secrecy has been drawn over the fate of a multibillion-dollar United States spy satellite that is said to have failed despite the successful launch and return of the rocket that took it into space. There are a number of scenarios, however, that could explain what happened, while affirming SpaceX's claim that it wasn't responsible for the failure.

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. That would have been about 1 1/2 orbits and normal for a second stage.

Needless to say, all this confusion, not to mention the secretive nature of the mission, is bound to lead to conspiratorial theories - that that satellite was in fact delivered successfully, and that this is all a rouse to hide the fact that a very expensive spy satellite is now in orbit.

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