The mysterious Zuma spacecraft will not be launched tomorrow as SpaceX has decided to stand down for the Zuma launch and take a closer look at data from recent fairing testing for another customer. The mission is for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket to deliver the Zuma spacecraft to low-Earth orbit.
Though they have preserved the range opportunity for Friday, November 17th, they will take the time they need to complete the data review and will then confirm a new launch date.
The Zuma spacecraft will launch on Falcon 9, a two-stage rocket designed from the ground up by SpaceX for the reliable and cost-efficient transport of satellites and SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. As the first rocket completely developed in the 21st century, Falcon 9 was designed from the beginning for maximum reliability. Falcon 9’s simple two-stage configuration minimizes the number of separation events – and with nine first-stage engines, it can safely complete its mission even in the event of an engine shutdown.
SpaceX’s official mission overview for this one basically doesn’t even mention the Zuma, except to note that that’s what they’re sending up into space. Its existence was basically only revealed in general because it was found in regulatory findings, and we also know that defense contractor Northrop Grumman brokered the launch with SpaceX on behalf of the U.S. Government.
The payload is “restricted,” her an official statement by Northrop Grumman, and it’ll be launched into Low Earth Orbit, but that’s all we know. It’s likely SpaceX’s live video feed above could cut away during the actual payload separation phase given the sensitivity, but we’ll still get to see live footage of the launch and the landing attempt for the Falcon 9 first stage, at least.