SpaceX launches secret government payload, brings rocket back home

SpaceX on Sunday blasted off a secretive US government payload known as Zuma

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the secretive Zuma spacecraft will lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Sunday night. The exact time of the launch has yet to be set, though SpaceX has set a two-hour window beginning at 12 AEDT.

SpaceX also plans to attempt a world first with the launch of Falcon Heavy - the company will attempt to simultaneously land and recover all three of its first-stage rocket cores.

To date, SpaceX has launched 49 rockets, of which 44 have been successful.

So it's certainly not unlikely that it's designed for military or intelligence purposes; per USA Today, amateur satellite watchers have speculated Zuma is related to earlier launches of spacecraft that appeared to be surveilling other spaceborne objects.

But now conditions for the mysterious mission are 80-percent go, weather-wise, in Florida. Few details have been released about the classified mission, known as Zuma, other than it includes a satellite built by Northrop Grumman Corp.


About 8 minutes later, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket came in for a attractive night landing at a launch pad back at the Cape.

SpaceX has successfully launched its first mission of 2018, after capping a record year last year in 2017 with 18 total launches.

Success on Sunday will clear the way for SpaceX's next launch from Florida, the much anticipated test flight of the Falcon Heavy booster. Although a launch date has not been set, it is likely to occur in late January or early February.

Launch attempt of SpaceX Zuma mission.

The launch window opens at 8 p.m. and closes at 10 p.m.

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