Secretive SpaceX mission slips, may delay Falcon Heavy debut

The company's most mysterious launch yet has been delayed for nearly two months and just got pushed back again.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
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Eric Mack

A SpaceX Falcon 9 carrying the mysterious "Zuma" at Kennedy Space Center.


SpaceX is now hoping to launch "Zuma" into orbit via one of the company's Falcon 9 rockets on Sunday after nearly two months of delays. What exactly Zuma is, though, is still a big secret.

Northrop Grumman confirmed to me in November that it had contracted with Elon Musk's commercial space venture to do the launch on behalf of a US government agency, which it didn't name. It provided no other details about the payload. 

After an original mid-November target, SpaceX set Friday evening as its targeted launch date for Zuma from Florida. But weather conditions have pushed the launch back by two days, SpaceX said Thursday evening.

SpaceX has conducted classified missions before, including the launch of a US spy satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office and the Air Force's secretive "space plane." But it's a little unusual to not reveal which arm of the federal government is involved in the mission.

On Zuma's initial planned launch date last year, SpaceX tweeted that it was delaying the launch to take a closer look at some technical issues.

Space industry site NASA Spaceflight reports that Zuma delays may also push back the anticipated debut of SpaceX's triple rocket rig, dubbed Falcon Heavy

First published Jan. 4, 10:52 a.m. PT.
Update, 4:45 p.m. PT
: Adds new launch date from SpaceX. 

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