Published: Mon, January 08, 2018
Sci-tech | By Eric Barnett

SpaceX to launch Zuma spacecraft, most secretive mission to date

SpaceX to launch Zuma spacecraft, most secretive mission to date

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.

The satellite will be launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from the private company's recently renovated pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Friday, Jan. 5, between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman was responsible for securing SpaceX's launch services for the Zuma mission.

As usual, SpaceX will stream the launch of the Falcon 9 mission, and the webcast should begin about 15 minutes before the launch window opens. The company has said it plans to launch roughly 30 missions in 2018 after completing a record 18 previous year.

Originally scheduled to launch in November, problems with the rocket caused officials to delay plans by several weeks. That would place Zuma near the others once in orbit, perhaps not by coincidence.

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The launch is SpaceX's first in what is expected to be a busy year.

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.

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. This is SpaceX's third classified mission, and arguably its most secretive flight for the United States military.

The unmanned Falcon rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday night, carrying the satellite toward an undisclosed orbit. The Wing could potentially support more than 30 launches.

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