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Test fire of SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket moves to Saturday

Test fire of SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket moves to Saturdayā€¯

Zuma may not have separated from the upper part of the Falcon 9 rocket and instead plunged back into the Earth's atmosphere.

To add to the mystery status of Zuma mission, the satellite is still categorized as a payload by the USA space-based surveillance system.

If Zuma did indeed fail, it's possible the payload adapter Northrop Grumman built to deploy the satellite from the rocket itself malfunctioned.

Northrop Grumman, the satellite's manufacturer, said it could not comment on a classified mission.

SpaceX's review so far indicates that "no design, operational or other changes are needed", Shotwell said.

Shotwell pushed back on reports that seemed to implicate SpaceX with the satellite's demise, saying "information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false".

SpaceX is scheduled to test fire its highly anticipated Falcon Heavy rocket at Kennedy Space Center this week ahead of a planned inaugural flight later this month.

That would explain SpaceX's account of a flawless launch, while also squaring with the satellite is a total loss. Later, the team will closed the satellite up inside the payload fairing of Falcon 9. A spokesperson for the huge defense contractor declined to comment on Zuma after Sunday night's launch.

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"There's a long tradition of not commenting on problems with classified missions, unless it blows up in such a way that everyone can see it", said John Logsdon, founder and former director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University.

In the meantime, Falcon Heavy, like its smaller cousin the Falcon 9, will advance SpaceX's goal of cutting launch costs by reusing rockets.

The conflicting reports, coupled with the seemingly incongruous aftermath, are adding a rocket-load of mystery to an already mysterious launch.

If the separation system was to blame for Zuma's rumored demise, the malfunction could have been under the responsibility of Northrop Grumman, not SpaceX.

The unmanned Falcon rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday night, carrying the satellite toward an undisclosed orbit.

SpaceX was certified by the U.S. Air Force in 2015 to carry national security satellites, a move that broke up a longtime and lucrative monopoly held by a joint venture of Boeing Co. and

Falcon Heavy is created to take heavier payloads to higher orbits, opening SpaceX's manifest to new capabilities.



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