Launch News Zuma: SpaceX Top Secret Mission (8 p.m. ET, Sunday, Jan 7, 2018)

Thunder Chicken

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francisdrake

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The scene of the two rocket plumes firing against each other during the boost-back burn is truly spectacular! Never saw anything like this. It looks like a planetary nebula.
 

Messierhunter

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The scene of the two rocket plumes firing against each other during the boost-back burn is truly spectacular! Never saw anything like this. It looks like a planetary nebula.

One guy who saw the video called it a "plumitary nebula." lol
 

Thunder Chicken

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There is some noise floating around about a payload failure :huh:

https://arstechnica.com/science/201...nched-by-spacex-may-be-lost-sources-tell-ars/

[ame="https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/950473623483101186"]Peter B. de Selding on Twitter: "Zuma satellite from @northropgrumman may be dead in orbit after separation from @SpaceX Falcon 9, sources say. Info blackout renders any con… https://t.co/elO8PlGixY"[/ame]
 

Artlav

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There is some noise floating around about a payload failure
Or that's just what they want you to think. :)

Which is actually kinda odd - our side would still be able to tell if it's dead or not, so that can only deceive the general population. So if it's true, then that's a bad sign about what sort of a mission this is.
 

Thunder Chicken

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Or that's just what they want you to think. :)

Which is actually kinda odd - our side would still be able to tell if it's dead or not, so that can only deceive the general population. So if it's true, then that's a bad sign about what sort of a mission this is.

I am unsure if the chin-strap on your tinfoil hat is too tight, or not tight enough. :huh:
 

jedidia

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our side would still be able to tell if it's dead or not, so that can only deceive the general population.

Hey, you might be able to tell us! :lol:
 

Apollon

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According to a Reuters article:
A U.S. spy satellite that was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a SpaceX rocket on Sunday failed to reach orbit and is assumed to be a total loss, two U.S. officials briefed on the mission said on Monday.

The classified intelligence satellite, built by Northrop Grumman Corp, failed to separate from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket and is assumed to have broken up or plunged into the sea, said the two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
 

Kyle

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Doesn't click with the visual observations of the F9 upper stage on orbit ~2 hours after launch. SpaceX also reported F9 performed nominally; if the F9 failed to reach orbit, that certainly wouldn't be nominal.
 

GLS

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Doesn't click with the visual observations of the F9 upper stage on orbit ~2 hours after launch. SpaceX also reported F9 performed nominally; if the F9 failed to reach orbit, that certainly wouldn't be nominal.

I think that when they say "failed to reach orbit" and "failed to separate" they mean "it failed to separate, so it came back down with the 2º stage".

Also, if it is true that it didn't separate, and SX are saying that their end worked, does it mean that S/C separation isn't controlled by the 2º stage? :uhh:
 

Kyle

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S/C has its own adapter, which may have been the point of failure.

We're never going to know if so. I think if it were a launch vehicle failure we'll see talks of an investigation, manifest delays, et cetera, even if SpaceX doesn't officially announce it as such.
 

Artlav

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Would they actually command the second stage to deorbit before confirming separation? That sounds odd.
 

DaveS

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Would they actually command the second stage to deorbit before confirming separation? That sounds odd.
Probably pre-programmed. No LV has active commanding, everything is pre-programmed pre-flight. Active commanding is reserved for spacecraft, not LVs.
 

GLS

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S/C has its own adapter, which may have been the point of failure.

We're never going to know if so. I think if it were a launch vehicle failure we'll see talks of an investigation, manifest delays, et cetera, even if SpaceX doesn't officially announce it as such.

Yes there are 2 sides to the interface, but the separation is normally controlled from the stage side. For a separation to fail it needs the explosives not working... if it is controlled by the stage, I'm not seing how the S/C could mess that up... maybe it fired the phasers before separation? :lol:
Anyway, this could all be a ploy to make people think Zuma is no more, meanwhile it is happily doing its thing. :shrug:
 

Nicholas Kang

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Report from Ars Technical. And they have quoted news sources from the Capitol.

This is the latest report up to now, published just some half an hour ago.

https://arstechnica.com/science/201...hat-we-dont-about-the-secretive-zuma-payload/

On Sunday night, SpaceX launched a classified payload known only as "Zuma" for the US government. But once in space, something went wrong. Here's what we know so far.

What happened?

The Zuma launch appeared nominal on Sunday night, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Falcon 9 rocket's first stage returned to a land-based landing site on schedule. However, on Monday, as initially reported by Ars and then other publications, there was a problem with the Zuma spacecraft. Our initial, unconfirmed information suggests that Zuma never fully separated from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket and that it burned up during the reentry to Earth's atmosphere.

Wait, isn’t Zuma in the satellite catalog?

It is, listed under "USA 280," without any pertinent details. However, as noted by satellite expert Jonathan McDowell, this does not necessarily mean the object is still in orbit or that it separated from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket. Rather, the upper stage was intended to make at least one orbit before falling back to Earth as planned. It is possible that Zuma never separated from the upper stage, made 1.5 orbits or so and "earned" a catalog entry, and then fell back to Earth with the second stage.

But we don’t know for sure?

No, we don't. SpaceX has only said that its rocket performed nominally throughout the launch. Northrop Grumman declined to comment. The US military has offered no substantial information. However according to sources familiar with congressional briefings, the mission did indeed fail. This information may not be fully publicly confirmed until some future congressional hearing.

Is SpaceX to blame, then?

Perhaps not. "As of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally," a company spokesperson told Ars. It is important to note that the payload adapter, which connected the Zuma payload and its fairing to the rest of the rocket, was supplied by Northrop Grumman, rather than by SpaceX. If there was some kind of separation problem, the fault may not lie with SpaceX, but rather Northrop Grumman.

So we’re playing a blame game?

It seems so. According to a source familiar with discussions on Capitol Hill, both SpaceX and Northrop Grumman are blaming each other for the failure. At this point, the government appears to not have determined who is at fault, but clearly this will be a consequence-filled decision for one or both of these companies in the business of providing the government with launch and satellite services.

What is at stake?

For taxpayers, there's the loss of an asset worth a billion dollars or more.
 
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Messierhunter

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Best launch video yet, your boost-back footage is spectacular!

Thanks! I've refined the filming technique a bit by having my dad help refocus the telescope while I'm managing the tracking. Mirror flop in my Schmidt-Cassegrain is a major problem when trying to track an object over such a wide range of the sky so quickly. He nailed the focus though, right before first stage cutoff. It was a team effort to get that boost-back footage, but it turned out great!
 

Notebook

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Any chance you can give your set-up, or point me to previous posts on that?

Thanks, N.
 
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