On Sunday night Jan. 7th, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 completed a launch, sending a classified payload codenamed Zuma into orbit before then completing an upright landing.
Zuma, referred to as cargo, a satellite, or by most as a spacecraft, is a top-secret product developed by aerospace manufacturer Northrop Grumman. This is a taxpayer-funded project that represents a still-unknown government agency or military branch.
The following day two opposing stories were spewed out by mainstream media:
- The WSJ, Bloomberg, and Reuters reported that the super-secret cargo, costing taxpayers billions was lost and the mission a failure. These articles claim that due to a failure to separate correctly, the cargo fell back and burned up through the Earth’s atmosphere. This information comes from unnamed government and industry sources.
- Time published an article citing the launch to be a success and that the cargo was successfully placed into orbit. As reported as being very uncharacteristic by Wired, SpaceX released a statement, strongly indicating Falcon 9 did its job.
“For clarity: after review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately. Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false.”
SpaceX normally provides a live web feed of their entire launches, however citing the classified nature of this cargo, the video feed was cut only during the moment of separation. The feed then resumed showing a successful landing by Falcon 9.
Technically they have video evidence of whether or not this highly secretive spacecraft, actually did or did not detach as intended.
What is even more interesting, rather than using SpaceX’s proven standard interface, Northrop Grumman decided to instead custom build their own adapter that ended up being the key piece responsible for the botched detachment.
So after spending billions of taxpayer dollars and years of research and product development, all of it goes out the window because Northop Grumman decides to make their own custom adapter instead of going with what SpaceX has proven works with previous successful launches.
Northrop Grumman refuses to comment whatsoever, hiding behind the not being able to divulge anything about classified missions defense.
To add further mystery to this story, the North American Aerospace Defense Command indicated the placement of a new US satellite the day after the Zuma launch.
Sure it’s possible Zuma only completed one orbit before falling back into the Earth’s atmosphere like one side says happened, but if we are being lied to about satellite failure by the military, as Quartz points out it would not be the first time.
The military has deceived the public before claiming satellite failure in order to preserve its secret mission.
Based on the details being provided, it certainly seems like this is once again the case. I highly doubt that Zuma was destroyed, or if it was, it at least completed its intended mission.
Correlating this to what we know of other secretive spy satellite missions launched by SpaceX, Zuma was intended for a similar and peculiar low orbit (50-degree orbital inclination is unusual) to the US military satellite USA 276 – a classified craft caught monitoring the International Space Station (ISS).
We were not supposed to know that satellite USA 276 was designed to pass by the ISS on June 4.
SpaceX’s Dragon CRS-11 was initially scheduled to dock at the ISS on June 3, however, due to unforeseen events, the launch was postponed two days to instead arrive on June 5.
This is a reusable craft originally designed for human travel, however, has been reported to only have been used to deliver cargo to and from the ISS.
Instead on June 4, the Cygnus, a craft used to deliver critical cargo, undocked a month ahead of schedule just as USA 276 passed by to begin phase 2 of its mission to deliver 3 payloads. All in all 7,600 pounds of cargo and science experiments were initially delivered by Cygnus, 4,300 pounds of material marked for disposal were then removed and sent back – all timed perfectly with the orbit of a classified spy satellite.
If Zuma was placed into the same orbit as USA 276, someone may very well soon find it, especially if they keep eyes on the space station. This may just all be coincidence, or there is indeed something we are not being told about the ISS.