SpaceX launches secretive Zuma mission

Cesar Mills
January 8, 2018

Availability of viewing opportunities and locations is dependent upon the scheduled launch time and is subject to NASA and U.S. Air Force approval.

"Three, two, one, ignition and liftoff", said a SpaceX commentator as the Falcon 9 rocket launched under cover of darkness from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 8:00 pm (0100 GMT Monday).

SpaceX cut off its broadcast of the mysterious Zuma mission a few minutes into the flight to protect its secrecy.

"Northrop Grumman realizes that this is monumental responsibility and have taken great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma", Lon Rains, communications director for Northrop Grumman's Space Systems Division, said in an official statement.

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This launch also included a recovery of the first stage booster used with the Falcon 9, which returned to Cape Canaveral and landed at its LZ-1 landing pad after deploying and separating from the second stage.

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has promised an exciting maiden flight from Kennedy Space Center.

It carries the Zuma spacecraft, which has had repeated launch delays since November.

The company is set to carry out a test fire next week, with Musk- also the CEO of Tesla Inc - stating that the payload will comprise the all-electric sports vehicle Tesla Roadster playing rocker David Bowie's Space Oddity. The exact time of the launch has yet to be set, though SpaceX has set a two-hour window beginning at 12 AEDT.

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