- Zuma, a top-secret government payload launched by SpaceX, reportedly crashed to Earth on Sunday night.
- SpaceX, which was founded by Elon Musk, says its rocket performed correctly.
- The reported failure may trace back to an adapter built by Northrop Grumman that connected the satellite to the rocket.
- SpaceX typically supplies such an adapter but reportedly did not for this mission.
A top-secret government mission launched by SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by tech mogul Elon Musk, may have failed on Sunday night.
Zuma, the code-name of the clandestine payload — likely a next-generation spy or communications satellite — most likely broke apart and crashed into the ocean, according to the Wall Street Journal, NBC, and other outlets. This may be because the satellite failed to separate or disconnect from the rocket once it reached orbit around Earth.
However, SpaceX seems to be distancing itself from the alleged failure.
“[A]fter review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately,” Gwynne Shotwell, the company’s president and chief operating officer, said in a statement to Business Insider.
Shotwell added: “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.”
Zuma may have cost billions of US taxpayer dollars to design, build, and certify, according to the Wall Street Journal. A standard Falcon 9 rocket launch costs about $62 million, and this was SpaceX’s third national-security launch.
What brought Zuma’s reported doom?
The secretive nature of the Zuma payload makes reliable details about the mission difficult to come by or verify.