SpaceX is set to launch their secretive Zuma mission on Friday evening at Cape Canaveral. What do we know about the Zuma mission, and how can you watch it?
Zuma Mission Scheduled For Launch
SpaceX is expected to launch the Zuma payload aboard the Falcon 9 rocket from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. Representatives from the company still have not stated the exact time of the launch but have announced a two-hour window and several backup windows for the launch.
It has previously been delayed from the initial Wednesday, Nov. 15, launch schedule, but the closest possible schedule for the launch is on Friday, Nov. 17, between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. EST. Anyone who wishes to witness the launch could do so by watching out for SpaceX's live webcast that will begin 15 minutes before the expected launch.
Zuma is indeed one of SpaceX's more secretive missions. If the name "Zuma" isn't mysterious enough to catch your attention, then perhaps the knowledge that it is a project for the United States government would. Zuma isn't SpaceX's first venture into secretive missions for the government, though. Since its certification with the air force to launch payloads of national security nature, the company has engaged in two military missions.
Zuma, however, is perhaps the most secretive mission so far. The parties involved have kept mum about the mission until about a month ago, and they have since released limited to almost no information on its nature. If there's something that is known about the mission, it is that it's for the National Reconnaissance Office and that it's a national security mission. The exact nature of the rocket launch, though, still remains a mystery.
In fact, even its mission press kit isn't very informative, as it merely describes the mission overview covering the schedule, the launch vehicle, which is Falcon 9, the facility from where it will launch, and the expected mission timeline.
"The event represents a cost-effective approach to space access for government missions," said Lon Rains of Northrop Grumman, the company that arranged the launch for the government. He also states that the payload is a restricted one but reveals that it will be launched into a low-Earth orbit.
Falcon 9 and Zuma went vertical last night on Pad 39A. Now targeting November 16 for launch — rocket and payload remain healthy, and the teams will use the extra day to conduct additional mission assurance work. pic.twitter.com/EHHq2rMZ4g
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 15, 2017