Published: Thu, November 16, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

Watch SpaceX launch the mysterious 'Zuma' spacecraft

Watch SpaceX launch the mysterious 'Zuma' spacecraft

The mission emblem for SpaceX's launch of the secret Zuma payload on November 16, 2017. Whatever that something is, however, is secret. Naturally, "SpaceX is launching a secret satellite" has set off a bunch of weird doomsday conspiracy theories.

We know few details about the Zuma launch, and what little we do know comes from a representative with Northrop Grumman, the aerospace company that arranged the payload's launch for the USA government on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It simply refers to the payload as the "Zuma spacecraft", which is bound for low-Earth orbit. Meet Zuma, the U.S. government's mystery satellite and the latest player in a global race to protect national security in space. There was a live webcast of that May launch, which had over 1.7 million views as of Tuesday night.

On Thursday, SpaceX will attempt to launch its third and most secretive payload for the military.

11_17_space x zuma
SpaceX has delayed the Zuma launch again. SpaceX

Watch for Ken's continuing onsite coverage of SpaceX Zuma, KoreaSat-5A & SES-11, ULA NROL-52 and NASA and space mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. Recode reported that the leave may be related to "allegations of sexual harassment".

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com and owner of The Washington Post newspaper, said in February that his private space firm Blue Origin expects to begin crewed test flights of the New Shepard, the company's flagship rocket, next year and begin flying paying passengers as early as 2018.

While other rocket makers ditch the boosters at sea following orbital missions, SpaceX expects to reuse the booster to save time and money.

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