SpaceX set to launch secretive 'Zuma' spacecraft with classified USA government payload

SpaceX set to launch secretive 'Zuma' spacecraft with classified USA government payload

SpaceX set to launch secretive 'Zuma' spacecraft with classified USA government payload

"Three, two, one, ignition and liftoff", said a SpaceX commentator as the Falcon 9 rocket launched under cover of darkness from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 8:00 pm (0100 GMT Monday).

SpaceX just sent a secret government mission to space.

The Zuma mission was first revealed to the public in October, when NASA reported that SpaceX has requested authorization for the mysterious "Mission 1390".

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It will be carrying a secret payload for the USA government, code-named Zuma.

Amateur satellite trackers who specialize in tracking classified missions suspected Zuma may be an experimental spacecraft testing new technologies, possibly sensors for watching close approaches between spacecraft. The company has said it plans to launch roughly 30 missions in 2018 after completing a record 18 previous year. The launch was originally scheduled for late November, but was repeatedly delayed. That would place Zuma near the others once in orbit, perhaps not by coincidence. The reusable rocket landed about seven minutes after liftoff, SpaceX said.

This will be SpaceX's first launch of 2018. It's aiming for more this year.

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It is a big month for Musk's space exploration company. This is SpaceX's third classified mission, and arguably its most secretive flight for the USA military. So far, five "flight proven" boosters have flown for a second time.

The unmanned Falcon rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday night, carrying the satellite toward an undisclosed orbit. But Sunday's launch is perhaps the company's most secretive yet.

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