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SpaceX to launch mysterious Zuma spacecraft from Cape Canaveral

08 January 2018, 04:36 | Hattie Nash

SpaceX launches secret Zuma craft for US government

A SpaceX Falcon9 rocket blasts off the launch pad in Feb. 2015 carrying the NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft. The same type of rocket attempted to place a U.S. spy satellite in orbit on Sunday

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

The rocket, carrying its secret payload called "Zuma", lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

"There is the possibility that residents of Brevard, Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Voluisa counties may hear one or more sonic booms during the landing attempt". The company has said it plans to launch roughly 30 missions in 2018 after completing a record 18 past year.

Sunday's launch will also include a landing attempt of the Falcon 9's first stage at Landing Zone 1. (SpaceX has had 17 consecutive successful landings, so they're getting pretty good at this).

Nothing is really known about Zuma other than that it was commissioned by Northrop Grumman for an unknown customer and that it's "targeting an insertion position somewhere in low Earth orbit", per TechCrunch.

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SpaceX is expected to kick off the New Year with a mysterious rocket launch. The Zuma payload was built by Northrop Grumman for the USA government, but additional information about the satellite is not available.

SpaceX has scheduled a live feed of the launch on YouTube (we've embedded it below!) but you can also watch along on Space.com's webcast page.

SpaceX uses the drone ship when it is sending a large payload to a low orbit or a lighter payload to a higher orbit because of the larger amount of fuel needed to bring the stage back. That office has not claimed this payload.

SpaceX successfully sent something into space for the United States government, and that may be all we'll ever know about the so-called "Zuma" mission that Elon Musk's commercial space company completed from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida Sunday evening.

According to industry publication Spaceflight Now, the PAN and CLIO missions were unclaimed at launch, but it was revealed later that PAN was used to listen in on communications above the Middle East by the National Security Agency.

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