SpaceX launches secretive Zuma mission

SpaceX and Boeing Co. are partners in Nasa’s commercial crew program which aims to revive human spaceflights from Nelson’s state

This was SpaceX' s third classified mission for the US government, a lucrative customer.

Northrop Grumman provided the satellite, for which government agency it wouldn't say. It is not as powerful as the Saturn V, the rocket which propelled astronauts into space for the 1960's and 1970's Apollo missions, but it is lighter and more efficient.

"... the main goal of tonight's flight was getting Zuma aloft, so the spacecraft can start going about its business".

The Associated Press adds: "SpaceX ended launch commentary five minutes into the flight, due to the classified nature of the US satellite".

SpaceX spokesman James Gleeson said: "We do not comment on missions of this nature; but as of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally".

Northrup Grumman, the maker of the payload, said it was for the U.S. government and would be delivered to low-Earth orbit, but offered no other details.

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SpaceX is the commercial launch service formed by Elon Musk, who is also CEO of Tesla.

During a livestream of Sunday's launch, SpaceX said it got successful confirmation that the fairing - the clamshell-like covering for payloads at the tip of the rocket - did deploy. The company has recently ramped up its launch pace, even launching two missions from opposite coasts within about 48 hours.

In 2015, SpaceX was certified by the U.S. Air Force to launch national security satellites. The satellite for the secret mission was built by Northrop Grumman Corp.

"I think the rocket itself is considered an extremely reliable vehicle", he said.

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. SpaceX has a six-hour window - from 1 7 p.m. - to fuel and test the 230-foot-tall rocket.

This article was originally published by Futurism.

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