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Sources say the secretive Zuma satellite was lost by SpaceX (arstechnica.com)
36 points by kanamekun 70 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 16 comments

Maybe saying that the payload was lost, it's part of their plan to keep whatever was launched as secret and confidential as possible.

That was my thought exactly spread misinformation that the satellite/payload crashed and in a couple of years people will forget.

So a secretive thing launched in space now suddenly disappears? I don't know but to me seems like a pretty normal way of saying "stop looking this way or asking questions."

> Sources say the secretive Zuma satellite was lost by SpaceX

> As of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally

Headline is in complete contradiction with the content of the article.

The rocket performed nominally… The payload, maybe not.

I understand that, but it's not Spacex that lost the payload.

No info, and no reliable (identified) sources cited. Photos of the launch show the second stage burned as normal, so that seems to indicate that the launcher wasn't a major issue. And the second stage de-orbit burn was also photographed, and looked like all the others I've seen. Separation of Zuma from the second stage could have been a problem, of course, or there could have been an issue with Zuma itself.

Satellites tend to be reflective due to their use of solar panels, and amateur astronomers track just about everything people launch. Heavens-above's track data[1] doesn't get filled in it either failed or is very low-observability and using an RTG or similar instead of solar power. It's also possible that the payload is in orbit, but couldn't get to the correct orbit, in which case track data will get filled in but the satellite still will have failed...

[1] http://heavens-above.com/SatInfo.aspx?satid=43098&lat=0&lng=...

Rrrright. That's what they want you to think.

If SpaceX is responsible for any problems, it will look bad for their reliability. From another article:

> The Zuma mission was originally supposed to launch in mid-November, but SpaceX stood down for a while to study data from payload-fairing test performed for another customer. (The payload fairing is the protective nose cone that encases a spacecraft during launch.)


It was awfully cold in Florida for the week or so before launch...rockets don't seem to like cold.

This has got to be really tough for SpaceX, especially given how accustomed the become to being as open and forthright with their past failures. Such openness seems to be key in how such a young rocketry company managed to secure so much business (well, that and cost and success rate). I suppose this is just the risk you take when accepting to launch secretive missions...

...still sucks, though.

Rocket seems fine, sounds like they decided to burn the payload with stage 2 in case of satellite malfunction instead of leave it in space.

How exactly does likely loss and destruction of payload translate into "performed nominally"? Is that like "stable genius"?

It's possible that the launch vehicle performed nominally but the payload had its own propulsion or attitude control, which failed in some manner and prevented the payload from achieving orbit.

Maybe they mean the lower stage performed normally?

> the first stage of the rocket behaved nominally enough such that it was able to safely return to Earth and make a land-based landing along the Florida coast.

> According to one source, the payload fell back to Earth along with the spent upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket.

Title is incorrect and sensational. Sources say the satellite may have failed or may have issues but it's all classified, and we do not know whether the problem (if any) was in the launcher or the satellite itself.

It's also not impossible that the USG wants certain parties to think the satellite failed.

No, the title is correct. One of the sources described that the satellite burned up in the atmosphere. And sure, it could be a smokescreen.

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