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SpaceX launches secret Zuma mission

8th January 2018 - 15:45 GMT | by ​Agence France-Presse in Miami


SpaceX successfully launched a secretive US government payload called Zuma on a Falcon 9 rocket on 7 January.

The rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida at 8pm EST.

The launch was initially supposed to take place in November 2017 but was postponed so the California-based company could take a closer look at potential problems with the fairing - the nose cone part of the rocket that protects the payload.

Northrup Grumman, the payload manufacturer, said the launch was for the US government and would be delivered at a low-Earth orbit.

SpaceX has launched national security payloads in the past, including a spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office and an X-37B space plane for the USAF.

The company's live webcast did not show video coverage of the Zuma spacecraft after it separated from the first stage of the rocket, but confirmed that the fairings deployed and the payload was well on its way to low-Earth orbit.

After launch, SpaceX returned the tall portion of the Falcon 9 rocket to an upright landing at Cape Canaveral.

According to Elon Musk, chief executive at SpaceX, the goal is to perfect the technique so that rockets can one day become just as reusable as airplanes, thereby lowering the cost of space travel.

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