SpaceX successfully launches top-secret Zuma spacecraft

08 January, 2018, 04:51 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • An artist’s representation of Falcon Heavy a 230-foot-tall rocket which is capable of carrying a payload of more than 54 tons

SpaceX now can look forward to its next major test for the year - launching its huge heavy-duty rocket for the first time ever.

Originally planned for a November launch, the mysterious Zuma mission may finally go to space on Sunday evening.

The codename is basically all we know about it - SpaceX couldn't even show every step of the launch, like it typically does.

SpaceX on Sunday blasted off a secretive USA government payload known as Zuma, a mission whose nature - and the agency behind it - remains a mystery. It did, however, successfully land the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage.

The Zuma mission was first revealed to the public in October, when NASA reported that SpaceX has requested authorization for the mysterious "Mission 1390".

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"Northrop Grumman realizes that this is monumental responsibility and have taken great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma", Lon Rains, communications director for Northrop Grumman's Space Systems Division, said in an official statement.

That mission last summer was observed flying close to the International Space Station, at a time when two US cargo craft arrived or departed. Few details have been released about the classified mission, known as Zuma, other than it includes a satellite built by Northrop Grumman Corp. The reusable rocket landed about seven minutes after liftoff, SpaceX said. The launch had been pushed back several times since late 2017, with the past week's "extreme weather" on the East Coast contributing to the most recent delay.

CEO Elon Musk says the heavy-lift launcher's debut test flight - carrying his own Tesla Roadster sports auto into space - is possible from KSC before the end of this month.

The mission, code named "Zuma", is a Falcon-9 rocket launch, but it is unclear what the rocket is carrying. The two-hour launch window opens at 8pm ET.

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