Back in January, an uncharacteristically secretive SpaceX Falcon 9 launch that was meant to ferry a classified billion dollar satellite into orbit apparently went wrong. Now it appears the fault may have been on Northrop Grumman, the company that built the satellite.
The payload, referred to as Zuma, failed to deploy properly once in orbit, and according to reports, re-entered the earth’s atmosphere alongside the rocket’s second stage, ultimately burning up or plummeting into the Indian Ocean. From the start, SpaceX reported that their Falcon 9 rocket performed exactly as expected and with no failures.
“For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly,” Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX, said in a statement to CNBC. “Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false. Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible.”
Northrop refused to answer any questions at all, citing the classified nature of the payload, and the Defense Department referred all questions back to SpaceX. Who again, claimed that their platform performed admirably while refusing to offer anything further. The Air Force did, at least, suggest that SpaceX was telling the truth.