Falcon 9 Zuma discussion

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Sooner Boomer

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Zuma may be dead-a.

https://arstechnica.com/science/201...nched-by-spacex-may-be-lost-sources-tell-ars/

On Monday afternoon a space reporter, Peter B. de Selding, reported on Twitter that he too had been hearing about problems with the satellite. "Zuma satellite from @northropgrumman may be dead in orbit after separation from @SpaceX Falcon 9, sources say," de Selding tweeted. "Info blackout renders any conclusion - launcher issue? Satellite-only issue? — impossible to draw."
 
Zuma may be dead-a.

https://arstechnica.com/science/201...nched-by-spacex-may-be-lost-sources-tell-ars/

On Monday afternoon a space reporter, Peter B. de Selding, reported on Twitter that he too had been hearing about problems with the satellite. "Zuma satellite from @northropgrumman may be dead in orbit after separation from @SpaceX Falcon 9, sources say," de Selding tweeted. "Info blackout renders any conclusion - launcher issue? Satellite-only issue? — impossible to draw."

Welp, since this was a sensitive mission, the general public will likely have to wait ~25 years before confirmation lol

Anyone that knows anything wouldn't be commenting.
 
Some conclusions may be made by examining the financial statements of the contractors and insurance companies at the end of the year to see who claims a loss of the cost of a satellite or launcher.
 
Some conclusions may be made by examining the financial statements of the contractors and insurance companies at the end of the year to see who claims a loss of the cost of a satellite or launcher.

Sneaky......

Make sure ya don't get disappeared, we'd miss you around here.
 
Or it could be "dead" for media purposes, since the satellite was secret.

Ding Ding Ding! I believe you are correct sir. Based on the level of security, and the fact that every nefarious regime in the world is watching, perhaps it's in "play dead" mode. Or it could be communicating in a new way that only above top secret personnel are aware of.
 
Ding Ding Ding! I believe you are correct sir. Based on the level of security, and the fact that every nefarious regime in the world is watching, perhaps it's in "play dead" mode. Or it could be communicating in a new way that only above top secret personnel are aware of.

Iddnit kinda *hard* to hide an object in orbit (OK, that assumes it's still in orbit). It couldn't have veered too far off of the insertion track, so it should be visible through a telescope. Even if it's painted flat black Krylon, it will still occult other bodies.
 
Seems that the Zuma payload is in orbit, but that Stage 2 de-orbited as intended (after payload sep, at some point the 2nd stage does a brief retro burn to re-enter over the ocean).

So, reports that it didn't separate from stage 2 seem to be wrong.

If it's "dead", would not seem likely to be a Falcon problem. unless it was something bizarre like the payload being shaken excessively or otherwise physically damaged by the Falcon before being separated.

Also since this is one of the most secretive mysterious launches of a US payload, can't ignore the potential that it is playing "possum" for a few weeks or whatever, until adversary nations put their attention elsewhere and don't keep real-time close scrutiny if it as intensely as they have done. From what I have been reading there have been spysats that didn't do anything for awhile.

SpaceX is acting/talking like the launch was 100% successful. What happens after sep.... is not their responsibility if the orbit itself is good and assuming the payload was not damaged by the Falcon before then.

And this for John Beans:

index.php


From SpaceFlightNow: https://twitter.com/spaceflightnow/status/950558453520584704

The Falcon Heavy rocket is going vertical at launch complex 39A ahead of an engine test planned for this week.

I myself am going to start reviving my Feb 4th launch prediction. :)
 
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Iddnit kinda *hard* to hide an object in orbit (OK, that assumes it's still in orbit). It couldn't have veered too far off of the insertion track, so it should be visible through a telescope. Even if it's painted flat black Krylon, it will still occult other bodies.

Depending on the power source and what it does, or whats wrong it may be hard to tell whether its alive or dead, usually something this secret means reconnaissance.
 
There's also a possibility that everything went normally, and the Zuma payload deorbited with the second stage. IOW its entire mission was basically suborbital. Seems unlikely to me, but I'm just some schmuck in the private sector.

I really like the theory on Ars Technica that Zuma was a replacement/refueling mission for another top secret satellite that's been moving around a lot. What better way to cover up that capability than to have a "failed" launch that happened to be in the right vicinity. If something falls out of the sky later, well, life's rough in the satellite biz.
 
There's also a possibility that everything went normally, and the Zuma payload deorbited with the second stage. IOW its entire mission was basically suborbital. Seems unlikely to me, but I'm just some schmuck in the private sector.

I really like the theory on Ars Technica that Zuma was a replacement/refueling mission for another top secret satellite that's been moving around a lot. What better way to cover up that capability than to have a "failed" launch that happened to be in the right vicinity. If something falls out of the sky later, well, life's rough in the satellite biz.

Maybe its for recovery by the X-37.....JK:)
 
Iddnit kinda *hard* to hide an object in orbit (OK, that assumes it's still in orbit). It couldn't have veered too far off of the insertion track, so it should be visible through a telescope. Even if it's painted flat black Krylon, it will still occult other bodies.

Sure, but I was referring to eavesdropping/decrypting communications from the satellite.

What gets me is why anything at all would said about secret satellites, live or dead.

Ine thing this does demonstrate is how the human brain doesn't like unfinished sentences so-to-speak. We need an explanation even if it is conspiracy-ish.
 
https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/9/1...e-northrop-grumman-classified-falcon-9-rocket
Further complicating matters is that an object that was most likely the satellite was seen in orbit by the US Strategic Command after the SpaceX launch. Strategic Command’s Joint Space Operations Center tracks all artificial objects orbiting Earth using an array of ground-based radars and telescopes known as the Space Surveillance Network, and maintains an active catalogue of these satellites. Following SpaceX’s launch, a new entry was made in the catalogue on Space-Track.org for a US satellite designated USA 280. That likely means someone within Strategic Command added Zuma to the catalogue after the satellite completed an orbit. However, there’s not a lot of further information about the track.

“For secret satellites, they don’t give us the orbit path, but they do make a catalogue entry,” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard and spaceflight expert, tells The Verge. “It gets a catalogue number and a national designation. And the fact that an entry is there should imply that a payload got into orbit and completed at least one orbit around the Earth.”

However, Strategic Command is also saying that it has “nothing to add to the satellite catalog at this time,” according to Navy Captain Brook DeWalt, a spokesperson for the command, who spoke with Bloomberg. That could mean that the center has nothing to add beyond the new satellite entry or that the USA 280 entry was added by mistake. Strategic Command did not immediately return The Verge’s request for comment.
 
If you google "seesat zuma" you'll find a few posts from amateur satellite trackers about the Zuma satellite. One post from Marco Langbroek contains the following:
The sightings of the Falcon 9 upper stage from the Zuma launch venting fuel over
East Africa some 2h 15m after launch, suggests that Zuma might be in a higher
orbit than in my pre-launch estimate. Rather than ~400 km it might be ~900-1000 km.

These are two *very preliminary* new elset estimates. I will see whether further
analysis of the images might lead me to further revise the orbit estimate.

Zuma 895 x 905 km
1 70000U 18999A 18008.04166667 .00000000 00000-0 00000-0 0 09
2 70000 050.0006 016.6385 0006870 048.9951 328.2490 13.98210309 00

Zuma 995 x 1005 km
1 70001U 18999A 18008.04166667 .00000000 00000-0 00000-0 0 00
2 70001 050.0003 016.6517 0006777 048.9870 328.8923 13.69880760 00

If correct, this means Zuma might become observable in the N hemisphere about a
week from now.
 
I tend to believe at this point that Zuma made it into orbit. Unfortunately, SpaceX's reputation has already taken a hit and they have little or no ability to comment on the mission and defend themselves. Social media is abuzz this morning with all sorts of cruel remarks being made against SpaceX and Elon Musk.
 
Social media is abuzz this morning with all sorts of cruel remarks being made against SpaceX and Elon Musk.
Say, that reminds me, how come we don't now see as much of that 1970s pop culture thing about how humans are basically good?
 
I tend to believe at this point that Zuma made it into orbit. Unfortunately, SpaceX's reputation has already taken a hit and they have little or no ability to comment on the mission and defend themselves. Social media is abuzz this morning with all sorts of cruel remarks being made against SpaceX and Elon Musk.

I'll make a slight correction here on the heels of my previous comments. It would appear that SpaceX is now trying to defend themselves to the extent possible. They've doubled down on their assertion that the launch performed nominally. So says the most recent article from TheVerge that popped up on my newsfeed.
 
This sound was heard:

[video=youtube;Szxx6PPRJxM]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Szxx6PPRJxM[/video]
 
At least CNN is being more cautious and likely accurate in their headline:

Zuma spacecraft launched by SpaceX is lost after failing to reach orbit

However in the body of the article it refers to other payloads lost by SpaceX, as though Zuma was lost by them.
 
Heard from someone who works at the cape that the payload failed to separate from upper stage & is in the bottom of the Atlantic
 
Heard from someone who works at the cape that the payload failed to separate from upper stage & is in the bottom of the Atlantic

I would assume, given the apparent top secret nature of the mission, that if it was at the bottom of the Atlantic there would be some recovery activity. Unless there was a self destruct.
 
if it was at the bottom of the Atlantic there would be some recovery activity. Unless there was a self destruct.

A big satellite re-entering from orbital velocity and impacting the ocean is a pretty effective destruction method. Things like fuel tanks etc. might survive but not much else. These things are built light.

Apparently the satellite got a SpaceTrack designator (USA280) assigned, but that could be an error, or it could just mean it orbited at least once before auguring in.

From all the rumblings, a non-separation seems likely. Or perhaps the satellite sep'ed but was DOA and failed to light a kick motor or something.

SpaceX is proclaiming that "the Falcon performed nominally", but there's a big difference between "after 24 hours, we've yet to find data that indicates an anomaly on the Falcon" and "we've fully exonerated the Falcon system from any issues". And it's SpaceX, so take it with the usual grain of salt (but the statement is from Shotwell, not Musk, so, just a grain and not a wheelbarrow).

It's been noted that the sep system was provided by the satellite builder (Northrop Grumman), so it's possible that the Falcon 9 sent all the right signals and the system didn't operate (which would result in both a non-sep AND a "nominal Falcon performance"). But then again, maybe the Falcon vibrated more than it was supposed to, or a cable came loose/was damaged/whatever. It's highly unlikely that those possibilities could be fully resolved this soon after the launch, so SpaceX's statement is premature (but necessary, given the heat they are taking).

The "it's actually still up there, failure is just what they want you to think" conspiracies are bonkers. The people we care about knowing would be able to find it regardless, and if you want to keep a mission quiet, stirring up a big controversy about it is the last thing you'd want to do. You'd just say "it worked, no further comment" and in a week no one would even remember the name.
 
An article from a space-oriented source about the Zuma loss:

https://www.americaspace.com/2018/0...-loss-after-falling-into-ocean-say-officials/

ZUMA Presumed a 'Total Loss' After Falling Into Ocean, Say Officials

..... Northrop also reportedly made the payload adaptor for ZUMA, but will not comment on classified missions. SpaceX however says their rocket performed just as it was supposed to, with “data indicating Falcon 9 performed nominally”, said a spokesperson with the company. Suggesting anything that may have happened was the fault of Northrop......

NSF article on FH Static Firing which MAY be as early as Wednesday.

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2018/01/spacex-static-fire-falcon-heavy-1/

The main event is slated for Wednesday during a long static fire window that opens at 13:00 EST (1p local time, 18:00 UTC) and closes at 19:00 EST (7p local time, 00:00 UCT).
 
Excuse my injecting a little levity into the Zuma situation. With all the delays and mysterious mysteries and unknowable unknowns (“they’ll see the Big Board!”), and ultra-silliness about even hiding what part of the government spent our tax $ on “Zuma" (WTH that meant), well, this clip from the last minutes of an old episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer came to mind. A Halloween episode, they were trapped in a house they could not get out of, and about to face "The Fear Demon, The Dark Lord of Nightmares, The bringer of Terror". Whoever posted this video messed with the formatting (and recorded off a TV screen) so it’d get past the Youtube copyright policeBot software. The payoff begins by 2.5 minutes onwards but you really need to see the start to appreciate it.

[video=youtube;Gtl1X-CDBzI]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gtl1X-CDBzI[/video]

So for Zuma: “Big Overture, Little Show"
 
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Other than 'anonymous officials', it seems like the Zuma Affair is based on -lack- of information following up a flight that was veiled by lack of information.

I think the 'its still up there' view isn't a conspiracy theory. I think it's the simplest answer. The 'its at the bottom of the Atlantic' idea seems problematic to me. If the F9 launch went nominally, as SpaceX has stated, then the second stage got into orbit. If it didn't do a re-entry burn, it would stay up weeks to months, based on other 2nd stage re-entries. If it did a disposal burn, it would come down near Australia. Maybe a bit further SE if the satellite was still attached and the stage massed more than expected. There are reports higher in the thread of the second stage being -spotted- over East Africa doing normal post-burn venting.

If the satellite didn't separate, it's not in the Atlantic. If it separated, but was stillborn, it's not in the Atlantic. If it is carrying out it's secret mission, it's not in the Atlantic.

I like Peartree's idea of waiting to find the insurance claims in corporate filings. The satellite spotters will be quicker, though. You can't hide in low earth orbit - nothing is black enough to adsorb -that- much sunlight.
 
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