USA-280 (codenamed "Zuma") is or was a classified United States government satellite that was launched by SpaceX on 8 January 2018. The specific agency in charge of the Zuma project has not been disclosed, nor its purpose. Unnamed sources have stated that the satellite was lost during deployment and re-entered the atmosphere.
The satellite, manufactured by Northrop Grumman, was initially scheduled to launch on a Falcon 9 from Kennedy Space Center LC-39A in mid-November 2017. The rocket performed a static fire test as part of its pre-flight preparation, but results from a payload fairing test for another customer led to a delay of nearly two months. The launch was subsequently rescheduled for 4 January 2018, and was further delayed because of weather-related concerns.
The satellite was launched on 8 January 2018 at 01:00 UTC from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 40 in Florida. The Falcon 9 first stage touched down at Landing Zone 1, and SpaceX later announced that all data indicated the launch vehicle had performed properly.
U.S. lawmakers have reportedly been briefed about the loss of the spacecraft and an unnamed government official said that it had re-entered the atmosphere over the Indian Ocean, possibly due to a failure in the payload adapter provided by Northrop Grumman. Due to the classified nature of the mission, detailed information on the satellite and its fate may not be publicly released. Officially, NORAD still lists the satellite but with no orbital parameters and the orbital status code "no elements available", which is standard procedure for classified missions.
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