2 weeks ago
On Thursday, Elon Musk-founded company SpaceX will launch a secret mission to space, reports Mashable. It is launching a secret government payload known as Zuma atop a Falcon 9 rocket sometime between 8 and 10 p.m. ET.
Once the mission is safely on its way to orbit, the Falcon 9 will come back to Earth and land in Cape Canaveral, Florida. You can watch the launch live via SpaceX.
If the launch goes well, Mashable reports, it will be SpaceX’s 17th launch of 2017, and if there are no issues during the landing process, it will be the company’s 20th overall successful landing. The company has performed landings on drone ships at sea as well as on land.
No government of commercial entity has claimed the Zuma mission. The National Reconnaissance Office, which is the branch of government responsible for maintaining spy satellites, will usually come forward and say that a payload is theirs, even if they keep the details of the mission classified. But whatever agency is behind Zuma has still not come forward, according to Mashable.
The aerospace and defense organization Northrop Grumman was asked by the government to obtain a launch vehicle for the mission and it chose SpaceX, according to an email sent by a spokesperson for Northrop Grumman to Mashable. The email also said that Zuma will be headed to low-Earth orbit, which is about 1,200 above the planet.
In 2009 and 2014, there were two secret missions, PAN and CLIO, that went unclaimed by any government entity, reports Mashable. According to documents obtained by The Intercept, the PAN mission was used to listen in on conversations routed through communications satellites above the Middle East, via the National Security Agency, reports Mashable.