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The launch of the Falcon 9 for the classified Zuma mission, which was repeatedly delayed from its initial target date in November a year ago, kicked off SpaceX's 2018.

In response to a query on Monday afternoon, a SpaceX spokesperson told Ars, "We do not comment on missions of this nature, but as of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally".

She went on to say the classified nature of the cargo kept her from saying anything else.

Tim Paynter, a spokesman for Northrop Grumman Corp, which was commissioned by the Defense Department to choose the launch contractor, declined to comment on the payload adapter, saying "we can not comment on classified missions". If SpaceX is sure about the success of its rocket launch, then the question will arise against the Northrop Grumman Corporation that built the billion-dollar Zuma satellite. "We can not comment on classified missions", Tim Paynter, Vice President for the company, said earlier.

So if there was a problem, who's at fault?

"Since the data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed, we do not anticipate any impact on the upcoming launch schedule", SpaceX added.

The satellite, code-named Zuma, failed to reach orbit and fell back into Earth's atmosphere after separating from the company's Falcon 9 rocket. The company chose SpaceX as the launch provider, noting late past year that it took "great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma". "We can not comment on a classified mission", he said. The company's spokesman Lon Rains said, "This is a classified mission". On Monday, Ars began to hear discussion from sources that the mysterious Zuma spacecraft-the goal of which was never specified, nor which U.S. military or spy agency had backed it-may not have survived.

With a price tag like that, taxpayers will want to know what happned said Phil Larson, faculty at University of Colorado Boulder and a former SpaceX employee.

On the space coast, however, it appears business as usual for SpaceX, a sign that the Falcon 9 launch hardware was not responsible for the fate of Zuma. For most SpaceX launches, the company provides the payload adapter - that's the piece of hardware that connects the satellite to the rocket.

A secret spacecraft launched by a SpaceX rocket on Sunday failed to enter a stable orbit and was lost. "Info blackout renders any conclusion - launcher issue?"

"It means you can fly and refly an orbital class booster, which is the most expensive part of the rocket", founder Elon Musk said at the time of the launch.

SpaceX launched two other national security missions a year ago: a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office in May and the Pentagon's autonomous space plane, known as the X-37B, in September. After an extensive Air Force review, SpaceX was certified in 2015 to compete for military launches.

Last March, a Falcon 9 was relaunched into space-the first time an orbital rocket was reused. What, if anything, happened to the top secret Zuma payload launched on a SpaceX rocket Sunday?

This article was originally published at 10:20 a.m.


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