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SpaceX, Pentagon wash hands of mysterious Zuma mission

The Zuma mission took place on Sunday, but so far there is no official information about whether it was a success or a failure.

  • Published: January 12, 2018 11:23 AM IST
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Elon Musk-led SpaceX keeps launching re-usable satellites every now and then. But not all missions garner this level of interest as Zuma. The mission, backed by the US 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 SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the secretive government payload blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sunday. However, post the liftoff there is no information about whether the mission was a success or a failure, and what was the purpose behind sending the rocket through a private collaboration.

During a Pentagon briefing, spokeswoman Dana White was asked whether the US Department of Defense considered the Zuma mission a success or a failure. White declined to comment, saying, “I would have to refer you to SpaceX, who conducted the launch.” On the other hand, SpaceX is also tight-lipped about the mission either.

According to ArsTechnica, the company has stated that the rocket performed nominally in both the first and second stages during the launch. However, the company has not specified if the Zuma payload was ‘successfully’ deployed in the orbit. A day after White’s statement, SpaceX president and chief operating officer, Gwynne Shotwell, was asked about Zuma. Shotwell replied, “You know I can’t talk about that. It’s not my story to tell.”

The foggy responses by concerned authorities are fueling the fire to rumors and speculations about Zuma mission being a failure. There is no on-the-record confirmation of the success or failure of the mission. Meanwhile, theories are emerging that the US government-backed Zuma was a satellite intended to monitor or intercept nuclear activities by North Korea. However, the publication claims that reliable sourcing indicates the Zuma payload failed to reach the orbit, and the mechanism most likely failed to operate properly.

  • Published Date: January 12, 2018 11:23 AM IST