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#1 2018-01-10 20:30:40

Oldfart1939
Member
Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 2,419

Zuma secret satellite; is it in orbit or a failure?

To SpaceNut-

Wasn't quite sure where to put this topic. There are various reports that the secret Zuma satellite mission failed' Gwynne Shotwell of SpaceX has publicly stated that the Falcon 9 performance was nominal, and that it performed it's task.

The payload adapter was constructed by Northrup Grumman, and failure of the satellite to properly detach is in their end of the court. N-G was also the primary contractor and builder of Zuma. SpaceX has pretty well waved it off; probably any failure would be the responsibility of N-G.

www.space.com has some cool pictures that were possibly from the Falcon 9 second stage venting propellants.

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#2 2018-01-10 20:35:37

RobS
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From: South Bend, IN
Registered: 2002-01-15
Posts: 1,701
Website

Re: Zuma secret satellite; is it in orbit or a failure?

It does sound like there was a separation failure, but no public information is available and now there's going to be a classified Congressional Hearing.

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#3 2018-01-10 21:15:38

SpaceNut
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From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 29,312

Re: Zuma secret satellite; is it in orbit or a failure?

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#4 2018-01-11 03:13:36

elderflower
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Registered: 2016-06-19
Posts: 1,262

Re: Zuma secret satellite; is it in orbit or a failure?

Or reports of failure might just be a smokescreen.

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#5 2018-01-11 05:51:52

Terraformer
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From: The Fortunate Isles
Registered: 2007-08-27
Posts: 3,859
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Re: Zuma secret satellite; is it in orbit or a failure?

It would be pretty hard to fake a failure, though? There ain't no stealth in space, only strategic misdirection. It would be pretty obvious if it actually succeeded, since there would be a satellite that wasn't there before.


Use what is abundant and build to last

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#6 2018-01-11 09:07:00

Spaniard
Member
From: Spain
Registered: 2008-04-18
Posts: 133

Re: Zuma secret satellite; is it in orbit or a failure?

Terraformer wrote:

It would be pretty hard to fake a failure, though? There ain't no stealth in space, only strategic misdirection. It would be pretty obvious if it actually succeeded, since there would be a satellite that wasn't there before.

Are you sure?
I'm not. A specially dark satellite with refrigerant to get very cold should be very difficult to see in both, light and infrared spectrum. And with a later change on orbit it could be hide as space trash.

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#7 2018-01-11 09:45:30

GW Johnson
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From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 5,615
Website

Re: Zuma secret satellite; is it in orbit or a failure?

Well,  the consensus of the published news articles indicates that the satellite was indeed lost,  because it apparently failed to separate from the second stage,  which was de-orbited into the Indian Ocean.  It's fairly hard to hide a satellite from radar. 

Northrop-Grumman supplied the payload adapter,  which is usually the device which releases the payload.  If reports are to be believed,  N-G also built the satellite itself.  That pretty well puts the blame,  such as it is,  on N-G for the failure.  But as I indicated in the other thread,  it is in N-G's financial interest (stock prices,  not direct contract compensation) to abuse the military secrecy to cast doubt on the performance of the Spacex rocket.  That does seem to be the source of the confusion in the public reporting.

I've already seen one report of a congressman well-known as a ULA supporter using this incident to try to discredit Spacex so that their penetration into the previous ULA monopoly can be reversed.  "Surprise,  surprise!",  as Gomer Pyle would say.

GW


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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#8 2018-01-11 11:09:38

Oldfart1939
Member
Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 2,419

Re: Zuma secret satellite; is it in orbit or a failure?

This is one of those special cases where a bit of transparency following the launch failure would be of benefit. It should be revealed whose equipment failed, not necessarily what the satellite was supposed to accomplish. I don't want to see this as unfairly skewing future launch contracts because of false claims.

As I've said elsewhere in this forum, I'm a SpaceX supporter, but not a sycophant. I seriously doubt that Gwynne Shotwell would be blowing smoke--not after 18 straight highly successful launches in 2017. The SpaceX launch manifest seems to be remaining on schedule without as much as a hiccup.

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#9 2018-01-11 18:16:10

SpaceNut
Administrator
From: New Hampshire
Registered: 2004-07-22
Posts: 29,312

Re: Zuma secret satellite; is it in orbit or a failure?

Is there even actual record that a payload was even onboard this flight and not Musks corvete.....

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#10 2018-01-11 18:26:22

Oldfart1939
Member
Registered: 2016-11-26
Posts: 2,419

Re: Zuma secret satellite; is it in orbit or a failure?

According to an article posted on spaceflight101.com, there have already been closed-door and top secret hearing started in D.C.

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#11 2018-01-12 21:45:56

GW Johnson
Member
From: McGregor, Texas USA
Registered: 2011-12-04
Posts: 5,615
Website

Re: Zuma secret satellite; is it in orbit or a failure?

What Kbd512 said in another thread is true:  Spacex would be grounded as far as the government is concerned,  if anything attributed to its rocket actually caused the Zuma loss.  They are not.  So the gov't already knows at least roughly what caused this,  and whose responsibility it is.  My money is on a payload adapter failure,  an item supplied by Northrop-Grumman. 

GW

quote from Kbd512:

The fact that FAA and NASA haven't grounded SpaceX would seem to indicate that they were not likely at fault for this mishap.  A launch vehicle malfunction that could cause its payload to unexpectedly plunge back through the atmosphere before a stable orbit has been achieved is almost certainly a grounding offense.  A malfunction like that would be an unacceptable risk to life and property.  The Atlas V and Falcon 9 series of vehicles are not experimental launch vehicles.  Both are proven workhorses entrusted with national security payloads.

Last edited by GW Johnson (2018-01-12 21:48:52)


GW Johnson
McGregor,  Texas

"There is nothing as expensive as a dead crew,  especially one dead from a bad management decision"

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