The highly classified and expensive government satellite launched by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral has reportedly been destroyed. SpaceX isn't commenting on the allegedly failed mission, however.
Despite the launch being shrouded in secrecy, SpaceX seemed to have successfully carried a mysterious government satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Sunday. SpaceX was able to land the booster's first stage, while the second stage continued to carry the secretive Zuma payload to its destination in low-orbit.
SpaceX has now landed Falcon 9 boosters a total of 21 times. However, SpaceX never officially confirmed the success of the mission.
On Monday, lawmakers were informed that the mission was "a total loss" and the payload plummeted back into the atmosphere when it failed to detach from the rocket, sources told the Wall Street Journal.
While the details are unknown, reports said the payload failed to detach from the second stage properly. The Zuma satellite was attached to the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, which is designed to fall back to Earth and burn up in reentry.
Sources also told TechCrunch and Ars Technica that the payload fell back to Earth attached to the second stage of the Falcon 9.
On Monday, Peter de Selding, the editor of Space Intel Report, cited sources who told him that the satellite "may be dead in orbit" after it separated from the SpaceX rocket.
Aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman was contracted by the government to build the satellite, which the Wall Street Journal said was worth billions of dollars. Northrop Grumman then selected SpaceX as the launch provider.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team