The payload may be used for surveillance or other tracking
An entirely secret, mysterious object has been launched into space.
The payload was carried up into low-earth orbit by a SpaceX rocket on Sunday night. But it’s not clear where it was going, what it will do, and whether it will be staying up there.
Indeed, nobody will say anything about the mysterious payload, apart from that it is sensitive and called Zuma. Such payloads usually relate to sensitive national security or defense operations.
Presumably it’s orbit means that it can keep a close watch on something on the Earth. But what that is, how it would do so, or even whether that is even the case are entirely mysterious.
SpaceX has made much of the launch, including the reusable rocket that carried Zuma up into orbit. But that is far less intriguing than what exactly is being carried there.
The mission had been planned for November. But it had been repeatedly delayed, apparently partly because the payload it was carrying is so important and sensitive that the military wanted to ensure it was definitely safe.
Northrop Grunman, the defense firm in charge of whatever is inside the rocket, only confirmed that it was taking part in the mission and some details
“Northrop Grumman is proud to be a part of the Zuma launch,” it had said in a statement. “This event represents a cost effective approach to space access for government missions. The US Government assigned Northrop Grumman the responsibility of acquiring launch services for this mission. We have procured the Falcon 9 launch service from SpaceX.
“As a company, Northrop Grumman realizes this is a monumental responsibility and we have taken great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma.
“The Zuma payload is a restricted payload. It will be launched into Low Earth Orbit.”