The company chose SpaceX as the launch provider, noting late past year that it took "great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma".
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell pushed back against reports that her company's Falcon 9 rocket may have malfunctioned during Sunday's launch of a classified spy satellite.
Bloomberg reported Monday night, citing a US official and two congressional aides familiar with the launch, that the Falcon 9's second-stage booster section failed. However, these censored bits are par for the course when it comes to SpaceX's missions for the government.
"We do not comment on such a mission".
As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the satellite failed to separate properly during the second stage of the mission and dived back into the Earth's atmosphere which caused the failure of the designated mission.
As for Northrop Grumman, the manufacturer of the Zuma satellite, it simply added "we can not comment on classified missions". This could have resulted in the satellite tumbling back to Earth. One of the aides told Bloomberg that both the satellite and the rocket's second stage fell into the ocean. Strapped to a Falcon 9 rocket, the craft carried a secret U.S. Government payload into orbit around Earth.
The company says that SpaceX is all set for the maiden flight of its Falcon Heavy. However, SpaceX made a decision to delay the launch to deal with some issues regarding the payload fairing (nose cone).
Representative Mike Rogers of Alabama (R-AL), who heads the House Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee, said in a statement Wednesday that "space is a risky business" but his panel remains "committed to providing rigorous oversight that accounts for that risk and ensures that we can meet all of our national security space requirements as the Air Force looks to competitively procure space launch services in the future".
But Marco Caceres, senior space analyst at Teal Group, said SpaceX's cheaper launch costs and faster turnarounds for missions will still probably work in its favor with the Air Force, even if the Zuma mission were determined to be a launch failure.
The Defense Department and the Air Force have repeatedly referred questions to SpaceX.
Congressional inquiries into the satellite failure may revive debate about SpaceX's rivalry for military contracts with United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp.
"I think the rocket itself is considered an extremely reliable vehicle", he said.
In a heavy blow to SpaceX's Y 2018 goals, the secretive 7 January launch, undertaking a government project code-named Zuma failed. This year, it's aiming for more. If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately. Another Falcon 9, meanwhile, is scheduled to fly in three weeks with a communication satellite for Luxembourg.