SPACEX is set to launch a Falcon 9 rocket into space tonight as part of a secret US Government mission known as Zuma.
The Falcon 9 rocket will deliver the Zuma spacecraft to orbit on behalf of the US Government and aerospace and defence company Northrop Grumman. The Zuma payload is shrouded in mystery but it is thought to be a code name for a US Government satellite on a mission into low Earth orbit. The SpaceX launch has been pushed back to Sunday January 7 with the two-hour launch window between 8pm EST to 10pm EST (1am and 3am GMT on January 8).
The webcast below will stream all the action from the launch live from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.
The two-stage Falcon will deliver Zuma into low orbit tonight before part of the rocket returns to Earth and lands at SpaceX’s landing site in Cape Canaveral. If tonight’s launch cannot take place as planned, the backup two-hour launch window will open at 8pm EST on January 8 (1am GMT on January 9). SpaceX initially pencilled in a November launch date for Zuma, but the launch has repeatedly been postponed until this weekend. On Friday SpaceX tweeted: “Team at the Cape completed additional propellant loading tests today.
“Extreme weather slowed operations but Falcon 9 and the Zuma spacecraft are healthy and go for launch—now targeting January 7 from Pad 40 in Florida.” In November 2017, it emerged that US Government had asked Northrop Grumman to contract in SpaceX for the launch of the payload.
Lon Rains, communications director at Northrop Grumman’s Space Systems Division, told Express.co.uk: “The US Government assigned Northrop Grumman the responsibility of acquiring launch services for this mission.
“We have procured the Falcon 9 launch service from SpaceX. The Zuma payload is a restricted payload. It will be launched into Low Earth Orbit.” Later this month SpaceX launch its bigger cargo rocket Falcon Heavy into space with a cherry red Tesla Roadster on board. Elon Musk posted on Instagram: “Test flights of new rockets usually contain mass simulators in the form of concrete or steel blocks.
“Of course, anything boring is terrible, especially companies, so we decided to send something unusual, something that made us feel. “The payload will be an original Tesla Roadster, playing Space Oddity, on a billion year elliptic Mars orbit.”