It appears that mystery is not leaving the trails of SpaceX's classified Zuma mission, even after its launch. Right after the lift-off on Sunday, news hit stands that the company's famous Falcon 9 rocket malfunctioned despite the company's president, Gwynne Shotwell, dissed all the reports, adding more fuel to mystery.
According to Shotwell, following the data review, stated, "Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night...If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately. Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false."
Reports started pouring in since Monday afternoon that the mysterious spacecraft Zuma, which SpaceX launched for the US government and which costs $1 billion, failed to start its journey successfully. It was launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.
The Wall Street Journal quoted some government and industry executives saying that the firing of the satellite didn't go as planned since it failed to get detached after the launch of Falcon 9's second stage. Rather the satellite pushed back into earth's atmosphere, added the report.
Bloomberg, quoting two congressional advisers and one US government official who was familiar with the launch, stated that second-stage booster of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket failed to perform. One of the advisers has added that the satellite as well as the second stage of the rocket lunged into the ocean.
If all these reports are to be believed and the launch actually failed due to SpaceX's hardware faults, it could turn out to be a "real test" to Elon Musk and his firm's reputation. It may also cost them future businesses with US defense sector, stated Loren Thompson, who is an analyst from Lexington Institute, reported LA Times.
Amid all the fuss SpaceX just released one statement which said, "We do not comment on missions of this nature; but as of now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally." The word 'successfully' has been replaced by the word 'nominally' indicating certain faux pax with the mission.
Another spokesman from the Northrop Grumman Corp, responsible for the making of the satellite, stated: "This is a classified mission. We cannot comment on classified missions."
The mystery surrounding Zuma increased manifold when a trained physicist from Caltech University Laura Grego told media that until Tuesday afternoon the satellite, officially named USA 280, was seen in the list of the government space surveillance system of the United States as a consignment on the orbit. This indicates that something did put it into the orbit and it revolved around the earth at least once.
However, that doesn't necessarily mean that the satellite is still there, reported L.A. Times. As per Grego, it's possible that USA 280 ceased working or if the second stage of the rocket malfunctioned, it might have toppled back towards the surface of our home planet. Once the list gets updated, the name of the satellite would be removed if it's not present in its orbit anymore.