Ownerless Super Secret Zuma Spysat Set for Dark Veiled Dark Night SpaceX Blastoff and Land Landing Nov. 16: Watch Live
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying classified NROL-76 surveillance satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office successfully launches shortly after sunrise from Launch Complex 39A on 1 May 2017 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 1st stage accomplished successful ground landing at the Cape nine minutes later. Credit: Ken Kremer/Kenkremer.com
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – The super secret ‘Zuma’ mission claimed by no U.S. government entity – not even the elusive NRO spy agency ! – and whose goals are veiled in virtually complete darkness– is poised for a dark of night blastoff on a SpaceX Falcon rocket Thursday evening, Nov. 16, from the Florida Space Coast.
An unclassified aspect of the mission is that SpaceX will also attempt to recover the 16 story tall first stage booster with a soft landing on the ground back at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. So expect some extremely lod sonic booms to rock the space coast region.
One of the very few tidbits of information we can absolutely confirm (and not deny) is that the clandestine and ownerless ‘Zuma’ Spysat is now targeted for a nighttime launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from seaside Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida during a lengthy 2 hour window.
We can also confirm that the launch contract was arranged as a commercial enterprise under the auspices of Northrop Grumman Corporation – as a means to significantly slash launch costs for whatever U.S government entity is responsible for Zuma.
That goal is completely in line with SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk entire company goal in developing the Falcon and Dragon family of rockets and spaceships.
“The U.S. Government assigned Northrop Grumman the responsibility of acquiring launch services for this mission,” Lon Rains, Northrop Grumman Director of Communications, told Universe Today.
“We have procured the Falcon 9 launch service from SpaceX.”
The launch window at pad 39A opens at 8.m. EST (0100 GMT). It extends for two full hours until 10 a.m. EST (0300 GMT).
We can further confirm that the launch was postponed a day to Thursday from the originally slated Wednesday night target ostensibly to deal with last minute ‘mission assurance. Issue to insure the rocket and payload are ready for a launch upon which SpaceX’s reputation is on the line for future high value national security payloads of the most critical importance to the US governments Defense and Spy agencies
“SpaceX is now targeting Thursday, Nov. 16 for launch of the Zuma mission,” said SpaceX spokesman John Taylor.
“Both Falcon 9 and the payload remain healthy; teams will use the extra day to conduct some additional mission assurance work in advance of launch.”
You can watch the launch live on a SpaceX dedicated webcast starting about 10 minutes prior to the 8 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT) liftoff time.
Watch the SpaceX broadcast live at: SpaceX.com/webcast
The launch window for the newly built booster extends for two hours until it closes at 10 p.m. EDT (0300 GMT).
The weather outlook is rather favorable along the Florida Space Coast with a 90% chance of favorable conditions at launch time according to U.S. Air Force meteorologists with the 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base.
The primary concerns on Nov. 16 are only for the Cumulous Cloud Rule.
The odds get even high at greater than 90% favorable for the 24 hour scrub turnaround day Nov 17.
The launch window remains the same on Nov 17 at 8 to 10 p.m.
SpaceX Falcon 9 booster deploys quartet of landing legs moments before precision propulsive ground touchdown at Landing Zone 1 on Canaveral Air Force Station barely nine minutes after liftoff from Launch Complex 39A on 3 June 2017 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on the Dragon CRS-11 resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA. Credit: Ken Kremer/Kenkremer.com
Furthermore the two stage 229-foot-tall (70-meter-tall) Falcon 9 rocket was raised to vertical launch position later today Wednesday afternoon Nov. 15 – so everything seems to be in place for a Thursday evening launch attempt.
However we don’t know anything about the ‘Zuma’ payloads characteristics and vital statistics – despite the seemingly endless leaks streaming out of Washington these days.
“The Zuma payload is a restricted payload,” Rains told me.
So quite naturally we’re all curious for any nugget of information from which we might draw some reasonable conclusions based on the scientific method of analysis.
The little bits we do know is that the launch services for the ownerless government payload are being procured by Northrop Grumman Corporation under a commercial contract with a stated goal to find a develop a “cost effective approach”
“Northrop Grumman is proud to be a part of the Zuma launch,” Rains added.
“This event represents a cost effective approach to space access for government missions.”
SpaceX Falcon 9 stands erect at sunrise with KoreaSat5A DTH TV commercial comsat atop Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, FL, poised for Halloween eve liftoff on 30 Oct 2017. As seen from inside the pad perimeter. Credit: Ken Kremer/Kenkremer.com
Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of SpaceX Zuma, KoreaSat-5A & SES-11, ULA NROL-52 and NASA and space mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.
Ken’s upcoming outreach events:
Learn more about the upcoming SpaceX Falcon 9 Zuma launch on Nov 16, 2017, upcoming Falcon Heavy and CRS-13 resupply launches, NASA missions, ULA Atlas & Delta launches, SpySats and more at Ken’s upcoming outreach events at Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL:
Nov 17: “SpaceX Falcon 9 Zuma launch, ULA Atlas NRO NROL-52 spysat launch, SpaceX SES-11, CRS-13 resupply launches to the ISS, Intelsat35e, BulgariaSat 1 and NRO Spysat, SLS, Orion, Commercial crew capsules from Boeing and SpaceX , Heroes and Legends at KSCVC, GOES-R weather satellite launch, OSIRIS-Rex, Juno at Jupiter, InSight Mars lander, SpaceX and Orbital ATK cargo missions to the ISS, ULA Delta 4 Heavy spy satellite, Curiosity and Opportunity explore Mars, Pluto and more,” Kennedy Space Center Quality Inn, Titusville, FL, evenings
Mysterious CLIO payload shrouded beneath 4-meter-diameter payload fairing in this up close view of the top of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket prior to launch from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com
United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the CLIO mission for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company launched at 8:10 p.m. EDT September 16, 2014 from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Credit: Ken Kremer – kenkremer.com
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