The mysterious Zuma Falcon 9 launch has been indefinitely delayed with SpaceX officials citing safety concerns. The launch provider has stated that concerns were raised after analysing fairing data from a previous launch.
“We have decided to stand down and take a closer look at data from recent fairing testing for another customer,” said SpaceX spokesperson, John Taylor in a written statement. “Though we have preserved the range opportunity for tomorrow, we will take the time we need to complete the data review and will then confirm a new launch date.”
The “restricted payload” to be launch aboard the Falcon 9 has had industry commentators curious for weeks. The launch was contracted by an unidentified U.S. government agency and was set to be heading for a low Earth orbit. The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the governmental agency responsible for U.S. spy satellites, has denied involvement in the launch leading many to believe it is not a covert surveillance satellite.
Additionally, self-described “global security company”, Northrop Grumman has confirmed their involvement in procuring SpaceX’s services for the launch. “The U.S. government assigned Northrop Grumman the responsibility of acquiring launch services for this mission,” said Lon Rains, communications director for Northrop Grumman’s space division in a statement to Spaceflight Now. However, the company has refused to confirm that they developed the payload, further obscuring its purpose.
The launch was originally scheduled for liftoff on Wednesday. However, SpaceX delayed the Zuma launch citing the need to complete additional “mission assurance” work. It is unclear whether or not Wednesday’s delay is connected to Friday’s indefinite delay.
Image Credit: SpaceX