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A Highly Classified Spy Satellite Has Been Destroyed. Probably

A Highly Classified Spy Satellite Has Been Destroyed. Probably

A Highly Classified Spy Satellite Has Been Destroyed. Probably

Reports began to trickle in Monday afternoon that Zuma, which was said to be worth more than $1 billion, may have been lost after it was launched Sunday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida aboard a SpaceX rocket.

It was one of the most important things Elon Musk has ever launched into space: a government satellite so shrouded in secrecy that virtually everything about it is classified.

"For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night", Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer for SpaceX, said in an emailed statement to Newsweek.

A highly classified U.S. spy satellite is missing after a SpaceX launch from Florida on Sunday, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

"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", SpaceX added.

SpaceX televised the launch and landing of the first stage, but did not provide coverage of the second stage firing or orbital insertion of the satellite, as it often does, because of the classified nature of the mission.

Due to the highly classified nature of the payload, however, it's unclear what exactly happened. Also, the company continued with preparations for future launches, including rolling the Falcon Heavy rocket back out to a different launch pad in Florida for additional tests.

This was SpaceX's third classified mission for the US government, AP reported.

Jonathan McDowell of Jonathan's Space Report, which provides detailed information about space launches, tweeted yesterday that the Air Force assigned a tracking number (43098) and name (USA 280) to the object, suggesting that it made at least one orbit, but leaving open the question of whether the satellite and second stage separated or not.

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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.

In a statement, the Department of Defense said, "As a matter of policy we do not comment on classified missions".

SpaceX competes for military launches with United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp., which was the sole provider for the Pentagon until Musk launched a campaign in Congress and the courts challenging what he called an unfair monopoly.

SpaceX declined to comment on the particulars, but in a statement to HuffPost was adamant there was no failure on its end.

Falcon Heavy is SpaceX's massive new rocket that will boast three times the thrust of the Falcon 9.

The launch broadcast was cut off shortly after the rocket's nose cone separated, which is standard under secret national security missions.

Zuma was SpaceX's third military launch.

SpaceX launched two other national security missions previous year: a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office in May and the Pentagon's autonomous space plane, known as the X-37B, in September. The launch appeared to go smoothly, and SpaceX cheered a successful liftoff and then the touch down of its first-stage booster back on land.

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