Read More: Scientific American
The U.S. government's hush-hush Zuma satellite may have run into some serious problems during or shortly after its Sunday (Jan. 7) launch, according to media reports. Zuma lifted off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Sunday evening—a launch that also featured a successful landing back on Earth by the booster's first stage. Everything seemed OK at the time. But on Monday (Jan. 8), rumors began percolating within the spaceflight community that something had happened to Zuma, Ars Technica reported. "According to one source, the payload fell back to Earth along with the spent upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket," Ars Technica's Eric Berger wrote. To be clear: There is no official word of any bad news, just some rumblings to that effect. And the rocket apparently did its job properly, SpaceX representatives said. "We do not comment on missions of this nature, but as of right now, reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally," company spokesman James Gleeson told Space.com via email.