After the launch of United States spacecraft Zuma via Falcon 9 rocket of SpaceX, news regarding the failure of the mission started to surface.
Image the second stage of the Falcon 9 in the skies over Sudan appeared on numerous pictures in the network, which indirectly confirms normal operation of the rocket SpaceX. Musk has said BFR could be used for missions ranging from taking satellites to low-Earth orbit to colonizing Mars. The company doesn't anticipate any impact on its upcoming launch schedule, including a Falcon 9 mission in three weeks.
Closely held SpaceX, meanwhile, is heading into what is due to be a busy year.
Zuma was SpaceX's third military launch.
Also, the future flights of SpaceX will remain scheduled as they were.
SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell weighed in on the mystery in a statement emailed to Gizmodo.
Falcon Heavy launches start at $90 million, compared to the starting price of $62 million for the smaller Falcon 9, according to SpaceX's website.
The satellite for the secret mission was built by Northrop Grumman Corp. A spokesperson for the huge defense contractor declined to comment on Zuma after Sunday night's launch. "Falcon Heavy has been rolled out to launch pad LC-39A for a static fire later this week, to be followed shortly thereafter by its maiden flight".
"This is a classified mission", wrote Lon Rains, a Northrop Grumman spokesman, in an email to Spaceflight Now.
"If we're talking about expanding exploration, it will be good to have more capabilities", said Olga Bannova, research associate professor and director of the space architecture graduate program at the University of Houston's college of engineering. Currently, SpaceX is facing fierce competition from ULA, a launch provider operated by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, both of which have long relationships with various elements of the USA government.
In the meantime, Falcon Heavy, like its smaller cousin the Falcon 9, will advance SpaceX's goal of cutting launch costs by reusing rockets.
If the separation system was to blame for Zuma's rumored demise, the malfunction could have been under the responsibility of Northrop Grumman, not SpaceX. There is no on-the-record confirmation of the success or failure of the mission.
A Falcon 9 rocket is set to lift off in February from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the Spanish-owned Paz radar imaging satellite, and another Falcon 9 is slated to haul the Hispasat 30W-6 geostationary communications craft to orbit from Cape Canaveral some time in February.