GovSat will share the satellite's communications capacity with Luxembourg's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies.
This was SpaceX' s third classified mission for the US government, a lucrative customer. This could have resulted in the satellite tumbling back to Earth. The name is in line with the "USA" naming system used for spacecraft owned by the US military and government intelligence agencies. After an extensive Air Force review, SpaceX was certified in 2015 to compete for military launches.
SpaceX has continued on with preparations for the Falcon Heavy and an upcoming Falcon 9 launch for satellite operator SES and the Luxembourg government.
SpaceX hasn't said why the static fire test was pushed back. Instead, it plunged back into the atmosphere, according to the Journal. The location and appearance of the sighting matched where the Falcon 9 and Zuma should have been orbiting, based on trackers' pre-flight predictions, and was similar to fuel dumps observed after other launches.
The Falcon 9 with Zuma kicked off on 8 January 2018 to 04:00 Moscow time from the cosmodrome on Cape Canaveral. One of the aides told Bloomberg that both the satellite and the rocket's second stage fell into the ocean. The last Corporation in the launch previously collaborated with the Alliance ULA (United Launch Alliance), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin, not SpaceX. But Shotwell reiterated in a statement Tuesday morning that "after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night". "Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible", said SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell.
That in itself was a statement: "They're not going to launch again if they think there's a chance it was their fault", said Todd Harrison, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The company also rarely releases formal statements on the outcome of each launch.
While the authorities are refraining from discussing the fate of Zuma mission, SpaceX is planning on increasing the feasibility of the rockets to make it reusable like airplanes which can significantly decrease the cost incurred during any mission. However, the agency confirmed that the Falcon 9 performed as it was supposed to after going through the data review of the mission.
During a livestream of Sunday's launch, SpaceX said it got successful confirmation that the fairing - the clamshell-like covering for payloads at the tip of the rocket - did deploy.
The goal of Zuma's mission was never disclosed, and no government or military agency claimed ownership.
It had been described as an "expensive, highly classified U.S. spy satellite". The attachment fixture is normally included in the launch service purchased by the payload's owner.
On the other hand, ArsTechnica notes that the fairing for Zuma was also supplied by Northrop Grumman. As individual members of Congress began requesting classified briefings about what went, if anything, wrong, Pentagon officials were also mum.
On the heels of the Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9/GovSat 1 missions later this month, SpaceX plans at least two launches in February for two Spanish customers.