SpaceX mum about November ‘mystery’ launch
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Much like the tile-matching video game of the same name, what the payload could be for a suggested Nov. 10, 2017, SpaceX “mystery” launch remains a puzzle. As was reported on SpaceFlight Now, regulatory findings suggest that the company could attempt a launch 11 days after the planned Oct. 30 flight of Koreasat 5A.
To say that this is highly unusual would be an understatement. Even highly classified missions flown for the U.S. Department of Defense have their launch dates announced. As of this writing, SpaceX has not responded to inquiries about the proposed mission. According to the report on SpaceFlight Now, the launch would take place from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A.
The possible launch was first announced on the website NASASpaceFlight.com on Saturday, Oct. 13. In order to fly, SpaceX has to file for special authority from the Federal Communications Commission to launch (and land) as well as to use telemetry/telecommand communications to track the company’s Falcon 9 rocket during both ascent and descent (in terms of the first stage).
While the Nov. 10 date has been bandied about, that’s only a “no-earlier-than” date and not a hard date. On Tuesday, Oct. 17, SpaceX released a launch announcement for the Zuma mission. The company, however, provided no details about the launch other than it is targeting no earlier than November.
In an update to its original report, NASASpaceflight.com confirmed that Northrup Grumman is the payload provider for Zuma. The mission is labeled as “government” and will be sent to low-Earth orbit.
Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.