NOV 20, 2017 06:33 AM PST

SpaceX Delays 'Top-Secret' Zuma Payload Launch

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket previously scheduled to launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week still hasn’t left the ground, and delays could linger on for a little while longer.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands upright at NASA's Kennedy Space Center while carrying the top-secret Zuma payload.

Image Credit: SpaceX

Unfavorable weather conditions or technical difficulties often hinder rocket launches, and similar concerns could be to blame for the most recent interruption.

Specifically, SpaceX says they called the latest launch off because of wonky data readouts corresponding to the rocket’s fairing ­– the highest point of the rocket that carries the payload for delivery into space.

Related: SpaceX wants to launch Falcon 9 rockets every couple of weeks

While most of SpaceX’s rocket payloads are merely everyday commercial satellites, this one was particularly substantial, and SpaceX couldn’t risk a potentially-faulty launch. We can infer from the delays that SpaceX is reviewing the data to learn what went wrong.

As for what was hiding inside of the fairing at the time of the unexplained data readings, SpaceX hasn’t said much apart from indicating the nickname ‘Zuma’ for the launch.

Little is known about Zuma, but those familiar with the matter imply that it’s a top-secret United States government payload intended for low-Earth orbit. A description of the payload, how it will get used, and what government agency is responsible for sending it to space are questions that remain unanswered as of now.

Speculation suggests that it could be a military-oriented surveillance spacecraft, but such ideas aren't confirmed yet as of this writing.

Related: Anomalous Falcon 9 rocket explosion breaks out at SpaceX's Cape Canaveral launch pad

This wouldn’t be the first time SpaceX contracted with the United States government to put top-secret payloads in space, and it probably won’t be the last. One example from recent memory is the Air Force’s X-37B space plane, which spent well over 600 days in orbit around the Earth for unknown reasons.

Although countless questions remain about what Zuma is all about, one this is certain: a rescheduled launch is in the cards, and SpaceX will almost definitely follow up with a complimentary first stage landing once the rocket performs its primary task.

We should see an update from SpaceX once engineers discern what caused the anomalous data readouts. Until then, the waiting game continues...

Source: The Verge

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
OCT 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 14, 2019
Can We Prevent Phobos' Inevitable Demise?
Mars has two natural satellites: Deimos and Phobos; the latter orbits Mars closer than any other moon orbiting the other planets in the solar system, and i...
OCT 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 14, 2019
Japan's Hayabusa2 Probe Lands on Ryugu Asteroid for a Second Time
Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft arrived at asteroid 162173 Ryugu last Summer, and it continues to conduct scientific experiments on the distant space ro...
OCT 14, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 14, 2019
"Buckyball" Molecules Found in Deep Space
The intricacy of life's chemical components has been baffling scientists for a long time. How do simple molecules such as carbon dioxide and methane ge...
OCT 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 14, 2019
LightSail-2 Spacecraft Demonstrates Viability of Solar Sails
The future of space travel looks bright, especially considering the fact that future deep-space probes could utilize passive solar sails to get to their de...
OCT 14, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 14, 2019
Can We Grow Plants on Mars?
If we were ever to send humans to Mars for a long-term or permanent visit, then it’d be essential that we develop some sort of renewable food source....
OCT 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 14, 2019
ESA's Upcoming Euclid Space Telescope Could Teach Us About Dark Energy
The European Space Agency is currently developing a new visible to near-infrared space telescope dubbed Euclid, which is expected to tell us more about the...
Loading Comments...