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SpaceX Says Its Rocket Performed As Planned Amid Lost Satellite Rumors
11 January 2018, 09:21 | Ross Houston
SpaceX responded to the reports and defended its rocket performance during the weekend launch.
SpaceX competes for military launches with United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp., which was the sole provider for the Pentagon until Musk launched a campaign in Congress and the courts challenging what he called an unfair monopoly.
While no official launch date has been set, the company had announced that it was targeting late January, and is expected to perform a test fire of its 27 engines by the end of this week.
SpaceX defended its rocket performance during the weekend launch of a secret USA satellite, responding Tuesday to media reports that the satellite codenamed Zuma was lost.
On Tuesday, SpaceX released a statement saying that the Falcon 9 rocket did everything correctly during Sunday night's launch of Zuma mission and the company anticipated no delays to its lunch.
The Air Force's 45th Space Wing also congratulated the company in a tweet: "What an incredible way to start off 2018 w/the world's 1st successful launch and land of this year!" Northrop Grumman VP of Strategic Communications Tim Paynter, meanwhile, said that he could not comment on classified missions. SpaceX says not it - only that if it or others find out differently, it'll let us know. "We can not comment on classified missions".
"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.
"There will be at least three investigations". And the sponsoring agency will do an investigation. "A billion dollars is not out of the ballpark". The fact that SpaceX is proceeding with its launch plans, including an imminent static fire test in preparation for the upcoming first launch of the new Falcon Heavy rocket, demonstrates that SpaceX is convinced all is well technically.
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"They're concerned any failure might hinder their ability to get future national security launch contracts", said Brian Weeden, the director of program planning for the Secure World Foundation, a space-policy think tank.
SpaceX, on the other hand, had something very different to say. SpaceX has also declined to give details about the spacecraft. The Defense Department and the Air Force have repeatedly referred questions to SpaceX.
Even without clarity on what went wrong, the mishap represents a possible turnabout for Musk, who was coming off a record year of launches and rounds of fundraising that rendered his closely held company one of the most valuable startups in the world.
At the time, ULA's then-CEO accused SpaceX of trying to "cut corners" and "taking a risky approach".
While the landing was nearly flawless, the company did not go on to confirm that the mission was a success, at least officially, according to Ars Technica. In 2015, a rocket blew up while carrying cargo to the space station.
WATCH: Caught on camera: SpaceX rocket explodes during testing.
In both cases, the company was grounded while it investigated the cause of those problems.
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