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SpaceX claims malfunctioning rocket worked just as it was supposed to

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SpaceX claims malfunctioning rocket worked just as it was supposed to

Reuters/Scott AudetteThe unmanned Falcon 9 rocket launched by SpaceX lifts off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

United Launch Alliance, the joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing created more than a decade ago to launch sensitive satellites for the Pentagon and intelligence community, has always been under fire from Elon Musk's SpaceX, the tenacious upstart that plowed its way into the market by waging war in Washington, D.C.

SpaceX's review so far indicates that 'no design, operational or other changes are needed, ' Shotwell said.

"We do not comment on missions of this nature; but as of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally", James Gleeson, a spokesman for SpaceX, said in an email. "We can not comment on classified missions".

SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell issued a statement this morning reasserting the company's position that its Falcon 9 rocket was not at fault for whatever happened to the Zuma satellite. SpaceX declined to comment further, citing the mission's classified status, as did Northrup Grumman Corp., which hired SpaceX as the launch contractor.

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The Falcon 9 launch, which was tasked to send the Zuma payload into low-Earth orbit, was again recently delayed due to issues with the rocket's nose. A standard Falcon 9 rocket launch costs about $62 million, and this was SpaceX's third national-security launch.

Until government officials are willing to make a public statement about Zuma, its fate will remain a mystery.

A military satellite launched by Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp appears to have crashed into the sea after a malfunction while being boosted into orbit, a potential setback for the billionaire's rocket program. "We can not discuss classified programs". SpaceX, along with Boeing Co, also has a contract with NASA to fly astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the "Commercial Crew" program, with the first crucial test flight scheduled for the second quarter. "But on this mission the customer provided its own payload adapter, so separation may be its problem and not SpaceX's problem", Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, tweeted on Monday night. Falcon Heavy has been rolled out to launchpad LC-39A for a static fire later this week, to be followed shortly thereafter by its maiden flight.

Last May was the first time SpaceX launched its first satellite for the US military with its Falcon 9 rocket.

The loss, if it was determined to be a failure of SpaceX hardware, could be a "real threat" to the company's future defense business, said Loren Thompson, defense analyst at the Lexington Institute. Under mounting pressure from SpaceX, he was sacked, and ULA's new CEO, Tory Bruno, vowed to "literally transform" the company in order to compete with Musk - and he also continued to champion ULA's track record of successful launches. However, the company has completed more than ten successful supply missions to ISS. After a rigorous Air Force review, SpaceX was certified in 2015 to compete for military launches.

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