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The Secret Zuma Spacecraft Could Be Alive And Well Doing Exactly What It Was Intended To

Rumors are swirling about the fate of a top-secret spacecraft, known as Zuma, which Northrop Grumman supposedly built for an unknown U.S. government agency and launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket on Jan. 7, 2018. There are a number of theories about what might have happened already circulating, but a fairly obvious one seems glaringly absent: that the satellite didn't crash at all and that it’s working as planned. The facts as they are known are that on Jan. 7, 2018, the Falcon-9 carrying Zuma lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Space launch firm SpaceX live streamed the launch on its own website, but ended the feed early in the mission, before the separation of the second stage, due to the classified nature of the payload. The U.S. government logged the spacecraft into its catalogue of objects in outer space as USA 280, but the entry on Space-Track.org otherwise contains no details about its orbit or reentry date. But within 24-hours, rumors and reports began to emerge suggesting that an accident had occurred and that the spacecraft was a total loss, all citing anonymous sources, with some saying that it had come down in the Indian Ocean. Satellite watchers have so far not been able to spot Zuma in orbit, but there are also no reports of witnesses on the ground or at sea seeing an object falling into the Indian Ocean. Individuals in Sudan and flying over that country did observe what appeared to be the normal venting of excess fuel from the Falcon-9’s second stage.

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