Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

SpaceX postpones 'static test' fire of Falcon Heavy engines

SpaceX postpones 'static test' fire of Falcon Heavy engines

There's a brewing controversy surrounding SpaceX's recent launch from Cape Canaveral late Sunday night. However, the positive presence of the satellite in the orbit can not be confirmed.

An expensive and highly classified United States spy satellite launched by Elon Musk's SpaceX has not been spotted in orbit and is presumed to be lost, reports said Monday.

Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false.

SpaceX launched two other national security missions previous year - a and the Pentagon's in September.

SpaceX's new, powerful rocket, the Falcon Heavy, was at its launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday, awaiting an engine test-firing sometime this week.

Originally scheduled for a November launch, Zuma was delayed by potential concern about another mission's payload fairing, the shell on top that protects a satellite during launch.

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On Thursday, a day after the Pentagon said the news media should ask SpaceX about mission success, the company's president and chief operating officer, Gwynne Shotwell, appeared at a meeting of scientists and engineers in Houston called The Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas.

"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", she said.

During a livestream of Sunday's launch, SpaceX said it got successful confirmation that the fairing - the clamshell-like covering for payloads at the tip of the rocket - did deploy.

Beset by months of delays, the confidential craft was strapped to a Falcon 9 rocket and finally launched on January 7 at 8 p.m. ET.

The loss, if it was determined to be a failure of SpaceX hardware, could be a "real threat" to the company's future defense business, said Loren Thompson, defense analyst at the Lexington Institute. The rocket's second stage propels the satellite into orbit. "We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks".

According to Shotwell, "Since the data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed, we do not anticipate any impact on the upcoming launch schedule".

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White again referred reporters to SpaceX.

The GovSat 1 satellite is set to launch on the next Falcon 9 rocket mission.

According to the latest ArsTechnica, now in the U.S. Congress to investigate the circumstances of the possible loss of Zuma and the role of interaction between SpaceX and Northrop Grumman.

According to Wired Magazine, Northrop Grumman supplied the adapter fitting connecting the Zuma payload with the Falcon 9 rocket. Questions remained about which national security agency the satellite would have served, as well as its fate.

Already, rumors abound that Zuma was a satellite meant to monitor or intercept nuclear activities by North Korea and that the story about its failure is a matter of subterfuge. The spokesman for the corporation said that the company isn't at liberty to comment on a classified mission.

SpaceX has launched national security payloads in the past, including a spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, and an X-37B space plane for the US Air Force.

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