NOV 20, 2017 6:33 AM PST

SpaceX Delays 'Top-Secret' Zuma Payload Launch

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

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
SEP 24, 2019
Space & Astronomy
SEP 24, 2019
Everything You Need to Know About NASA's Artemis Mission
NASA’s upcoming Artemis mission will bring the Moon back into focus as we attempt to learn more about what it takes to become a multi-planetary speci...
OCT 13, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 13, 2019
Astronomers Find At Least 20 More Moons Orbiting Saturn
Just this past week, Saturn overtook Jupiter as the planet in our solar system with the highest number of moons. Researchers from the Carnegie Institution...
DEC 02, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 02, 2019
The Air Force's X-37B Plane Spent 780 Days in Space, But Why?
The United States Air Force regularly conducts top-secret missions and science experiments on behalf of the federal government. One of the military branch&...
JAN 21, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 21, 2020
Here's Why SpaceX Blew Up a Falcon 9 Rocket in Mid-Air
SpaceX completed a substantial milestone for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program this week, an undertaking that involved one of the commercial space compa...
FEB 02, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 02, 2020
NASA Officially Retires the Spitzer Space Telescope
NASA is always sending spacecraft into space to explore the universe around us; be it the close-proximity stellar neighborhood of our own solar system or o...
FEB 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 16, 2020
Just How Powerful is a Piece of Space Debris?
One of the most commonly discussed topics in space science today is the space junk problem, in which space junk collides with objects to create space debri...
Loading Comments...