SpaceX began the new year with a mystery-shrouded mission to deliver a government spacecraft, called Zuma, into orbit, the media reported. After more than a month of delays, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket vaulted toward the skies at 8 p.m. on Sunday with the secretive payload. It launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, reports CNN.
The space exploration firm, which is headed by Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk, had initially scheduled the Zuma mission last November. SpaceX gave a couple reasons for the schedule changes. The company said it delayed the mission for “fairing testing”. The fairing is the very top portion of the rocket that houses the payload. “Extreme weather” also slowed down the firm’s launch preparations.
Last week, SpaceX finally declared that both the rocket and the payload were “healthy” and ready for launch. On Sunday, Zuma was delivered to low-Earth orbit, which is typically defined as any orbital path less than about 1,200 miles above the Earth’s surface, according to NASA. Zuma’s destination was not disclosed, CNN reported. When asked about the project in November, Northrop Grumman (NOC) — the Virginia-based aerospace and defense company that built the spacecraft — declined to give any details about which arm of the government funded it.