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SpaceX Might Launch the U.S. Government’s Secret ‘Zuma’ Satellite Friday Evening

David Meyer

SpaceX’s sort-of-top-secret Zuma mission for the U.S. government--which presumably has nothing to do with the South African president of the same name--may or may not go ahead on Friday evening, after delays made its planned Thursday launch impossible.

According to documents obtained by Wired last month, the Zuma mission involves carrying a Northrop Grumman-made satellite into low-Earth orbit for the U.S. government. That’s pretty much all we know about it--it’s not even apparent which government branch or agency is the client here.

Elon Musk’s firm was originally supposed to launch the Zuma payload on Thursday evening. However, SpaceX said in a couple of tweets that it was delaying the launch so it could more closely look at component-test data relating to another mission.

It still has a slot for Friday evening but will take as long as it needs to examine the data.

Specifically, the company is looking at data relating to the nose cone--known as “fairing”--that protects the payload. The Zuma mission’s fairing will be jettisoned to expose the satellite once SpaceX’s Falcon 9 clears the Earth’s atmosphere.



is itself in the process of buying a spaceflight firm called Orbital ATK, which serves the International Space Station and will bring the weaponry and aerospace giant into competition with SpaceX.

A couple months ago, SpaceX launched a “miniature space plane” for the U.S. Air Force.

A SpaceX delivery of a satellite for Israel’s Space Communications went horribly wrong last year after the Falcon 9 rocket exploded. However, SpaceX signed a new deal with the Israeli company last month to launch another two satellites into orbit.

See original article on Fortune.com

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