SpaceX set to launch secretive 'Zuma' spacecraft with classified U.S. government payload

X What little is known about the Zuma satellite is that Northrop made it for a government customer and was launched into low Earth orbit, where the International Space Station, reconnaissance, weather and communications satellites reside.

The Falcon 9 launched from the SLC-40 launchpad at Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 1 am UTC.

The unmanned Falcon rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral on time at 8 p.m. with a brilliant flame visible for hundreds of miles. Zuma is funded by an unknown branch of the U.S. government and its payload is classified.

SpaceX is kicking off the New Year with a long list of launches on its manifest.

It's the 21st time the company has executed the "pioneering manoeuvre" of landing the booster rocket, says Alphr. The Falcon 9 successfully landed back to base.

The company will be attempting a test launch next week with Musk- also the CEO of Tesla Inc - stating that the payload will comprise the all-electric sports auto Tesla Roadster playing rocker David Bowie's Space Oddity.

The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. It's aiming for more this year, including the debut of the Falcon Heavy - a triple-core version of the Falcon 9 that will have all 27 engines firing at launch.

  • Tracy Klein