SpaceX launches secretive Zuma mission

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However, these censored bits are par for the course when it comes to SpaceX's missions for the government. Rumors associated with the same stated that the mission lost control during the second stage of separation from the rocket and fell back into the Earth. It is not as powerful as the Saturn V, the rocket which propelled astronauts into space for the 1960's and 1970's Apollo missions, but it is lighter and more efficient.

An article in Wired said that Northrop Grumman provided the adapter to mate Zuma to the Falcon 9.

"... the main goal of tonight's flight was getting Zuma aloft, so the spacecraft can start going about its business".

Northrop Grumman - which provided the satellite for an undisclosed US government entity - said it can not comment on classified missions.

SpaceX spokesman James Gleeson said: "We do not comment on missions of this nature; but as of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally".

"If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately", she said.

Results from the firing will be analyzed ahead of Falcon Heavy's demonstration flight around the "end of the month", according to CEO Elon Musk.

Teams will watch closely as the three-core launch vehicle is loaded with propellant at pad 39A on Thursday, then briefly fire its 27 Merlin engines for the first time.

SpaceX launched two other national security missions a year ago: a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office in May and the Pentagon's autonomous space plane, known as the X-37B, in September.

Last year was a banner year for the private space company with 18 launches. The satellite for the secret mission was built by Northrop Grumman Corp.

SpaceX has pushed back an historic test of the Falcon Heavy, the world's largest rocket.

On its website, SpaceX says it has more than 70 upcoming missions on its launch manifest, which could take several years.

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