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A senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Laura Grego, showed concern that the satellite might have stopped functioning near the orbit or failed to separate from the rocket during the second half of the mission. On the other hand, SpaceX is also tight-lipped about the mission either.

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.

Astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell notes that "usually, when you buy a missile launch, you pay for the adapter payload on the upper stage of the rocket, therefore the spacecraft separation from the rocket could be a problem, Northrop Grumman, and SpaceX is not". The mission, backed by the USA government, has become the talk of the town because neither the agency behind the liftoff nor the Pentagon are taking responsibility or sharing details about it post the liftoff.

The expert refers to the publication Wired, which reported that the layout of the payload on the rocket Zuma said the company Northrop Grumman. However, the agency confirmed that the Falcon 9 performed as it was supposed to after going through the data review of the mission. "Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible".

The Falcon 9 with Zuma kicked off on 8 January 2018 to 04:00 Moscow time from the cosmodrome on Cape Canaveral. "If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", Shotwell said in the statement.

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.

However, SpaceX never officially confirmed the success of the mission.

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Originally planned to launch back in November, Zuma had a secret payload for the US government.

SpaceX is led by Elon Musk and has been rapidly expanding its launch business, which includes NASA, national security and commercial missions.

"The most important issue here is whether the Pentagon will rethink its reliability as a provider of launch services", said Thompson, whose think tank receives funding from Boeing and Lockheed.

While the authorities are refraining from discussing the fate of Zuma mission, SpaceX is planning on increasing the feasibility of the rockets to make it reusable like airplanes which can significantly decrease the cost incurred during any mission.

On its website, SpaceX says it has more than 70 upcoming missions on its launch manifest, which could take several years.

SpaceX has a six-hour window - from 1 p.m.to 7 p.m. - to fuel and test the 230-foot-tall rocket.

Shotwell went on to state that this latest mishap will have no bearing on future SpaceX launches, and that Falcon Heavy is being prepped for its maiden flight. Another Falcon 9, meanwhile, is scheduled to fly in three weeks with a communication satellite for Luxembourg. "Though we have preserved the range opportunity for tomorrow, we will take the time we need to complete the data review and will then confirm a new launch date".


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