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SpaceX says Falcon 9 rocket worked fine

9th January 2018 - 17:00 GMT | by ​Agence France-Presse in Miami

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SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket worked fine in its launch of a secretive US government satellite, named Zuma, the company said on 9 January after reports the payload did not make it into orbit.

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

Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, said: ‘For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night.

‘If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately. Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false. Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible.’

The Wall Street Journal reported on 8 January that the billion-dollar payload did not make it into orbit and was ‘presumed to be a total loss,’ citing unnamed government and industry officials.

According to the report, the secretive payload was believed to have plummeted back into the atmosphere because it did not separate as planned from the upper part of the rocket.

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

SpaceX’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 on its way to low-Earth orbit.

The fairing is the part of the rocket nose cone that holds the payload and splits apart at the proper time, so the satellite can slip into orbit.

The launch was initially planned for November 2017 but was postponed so that SpaceX could take a closer look at data from recent fairing testing for another customer.

Shotwell said no changes are expected in SpaceX's upcoming launch schedule ‘since the data reviewed so far indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed.’

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 US Air Force.

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