SpaceX postpones 'static test' fire of Falcon Heavy engines

This still image from video courtesy of SpaceX shows the launch of SpaceX's secretive US government payload known as Zuma on January 7 from Cape Canaveral Florida

SpaceX and the Pentagon did not respond to requests for comment about the nature of the mission.

The pinpoint landing of Falcon's booster marks the 21st time that SpaceX has successfully completed the pioneering maneuver, which recovers for reuse a costly part of the rocket that traditionally is expended during launch. The name refers to a Malibu beach in Southern California.

The company's live webcast did not show video coverage of the Zuma spacecraft after it separated from the first stage of the rocket, but confirmed that the fairings deployed and the payload was well on its way to low-Earth orbit. But second-stage information was kept to a minimum because of all the secrecy surrounding the flight.

What makes things tricky is the fact that the satellite failed to achieve orbit, reportedly burning up in the earth's atmosphere.

The intelligence satellite, built by Northrop Grumman Corp, failed to separate from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, according to U.S. officials.


Originally scheduled for a November launch, Zuma was delayed by potential concern about another mission's payload fairing, the shell on top that protects a satellite during launch.

Shotwell said in a statement that since no rocket changes are warranted for upcoming flights, the company's launch schedule remains on track.

"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", she said. It could majorly affect the future business prospects of the company SpaceX associated with the defense, explained the defense analyst at the Lexington Institute, Loren Thompson. It's shooting for even more flights in 2018.

Elon Musk has announced that the first flight of his company's "Falcon Heavy" rocket will carry a Tesla Roadster - touted as the quickest auto in the world with record-setting acceleration, range and performance - into Martian orbit. "We are also preparing for an F9 launch for SES and the Luxembourg Government from SLC-40 in three weeks".

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