Elon Musk's SpaceX denies blame as spy satellite fails

The Falcon's first stage reportedly completed its job, lifting the rocket off the pad and toward space, then separated and landed back at Cape Canaveral, but it's the second stage, which propels the satellite into orbit, that is being questioned as information on it is minimal considering the secrecy surrounding the flight.

A view of the launch of launch the classified intelligence satellite, code-named Zuma, in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Shotwell said in her Tuesday statement that the company "does not anticipate any impact on the upcoming launch schedule" at the end of the month since the data reviewed so far "indicates that no design, operational or other changes are needed".

Company President Gwynne Shotwell said the Falcon 9 rocket "did everything correctly" Sunday night and suggestions otherwise are "categorically false".

A highly classified U.S. spy satellite was reportedly lost in a failed SpaceX mission in Florida.

"Zuma satellite from @northropgrumman may be dead in orbit after separation from @SpaceX Falcon 9, sources say", de Selding tweeted.

SpaceX televised the launch and landing of the first stage, but did not provide coverage of the second stage firing or orbital insertion of the satellite, as it often does, because of the classified nature of the mission.

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It's not clear how many flights have been affected but the departure board is a sea of red and yellow cancellations and delays. Following the storm, passengers were kept on planes and waited hours to retrieve luggage as flights were delayed and canceled.

On its website, SpaceX says it has more than 70 upcoming missions on its launch manifest, which could take several years.

As word spread on Monday that something may have happened to the Zuma satellite, SpaceX maintained that nothing went wrong with its Falcon 9 rocket, saying a review of the data showed it "performed nominally".

While the Falcon 9 had the Zuma satellite, the Falcon heavy will have an interesting payload of its own: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's personal Tesla Roadster.

The secretive nature of the Zuma payload makes reliable details about the mission hard to come by or verify. "We can not discuss classified programs".

According to a source, the satellite did not reach the designated altitude and instead, fell back down, along with the expended second stage of the SpaceX rocket. SpaceX, along with Boeing Co, also has a contract with NASA to fly astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the "Commercial Crew" program, with the first crucial test flight scheduled for the second quarter. "National security payloads are a very important potential market for SpaceX".

But Marco Caceres, senior space analyst at Teal Group, said SpaceX's cheaper launch costs and faster turnarounds for missions will still probably work in its favor with the Air Force, even if the Zuma mission were determined to be a launch failure. The company's spokesman Lon Rains said, "This is a classified mission".

A U.S. official and two congressional aides, all familiar with the launch, said on condition of anonymity that the second-stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster rocket failed. The thrust its 27 engines can produce is equivalent to 18 Boeing ( BA ) 747s and makes it two times more powerful than any other rocket operating today, according to SpaceX.

  • Douglas Reid