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
JUL 30, 2018
Space & Astronomy
JUL 30, 2018
Terraforming Mars Not Possible With Current Technology, Study Suggests
Mars is a bleak and lifeless place today, at least when compared to Earth’s standards. With that in mind, it’d take significant efforts to make...
AUG 07, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 07, 2018
Why Does the James Webb Space Telescope Keep Getting Delayed?
The James Webb Space Telescope is set to become NASA’s latest and greatest space-based observatory, superseding the Hubble Space Telescope as the big...
AUG 22, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
AUG 22, 2018
The Universe is Expanding, But How Fast?
Since the Big Bang, our universe has never ceased expanding. The rate of cosmic expansion, now known as the Hubble Constant, was first defined by Belgian a...
SEP 03, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 03, 2018
The Moon is Close, So Why Don't We Colonize it Instead of Mars?
If you’ve been paying any attention to NASA and SpaceX lately, then you might’ve caught wind about their mutual interest in colonizing Mars wit...
SEP 09, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 09, 2018
Curiosity Rover Captures Stunning Panorama Following Successful Drill Sampling
NASA’s Curiosity rover currently sits at the forefront of the American space agency’s web page this week after capturing a breath-taking 360-de...
SEP 11, 2018
Space & Astronomy
SEP 11, 2018
Lunar Rock Samples Collected by the Apollo Astronauts May Not Tell the Moon's Entire Story
While some researchers study our planet to learn more about its history and formation, other researchers focus their efforts on alternative bodies in the s...
Loading Comments...