39

The way something like this typically works is that the customer, in this case the Air Force, calls the path classified, to some level. In the contract, the customer declares what parts are classified, and how such classified data should be handled. That will include the fact that any SpaceX employee that has access to the classified data must have the right ...


19

What is known: SpaceX issued a statement saying that the Falcon 9 performed as intended An object was seen with spinning plumes that is assumed to be a Falcon 9 upper stage post-thrust fuel dump. This occurred at about 2 hours, 15 minutes after launch, over Africa. The official timeline/ press brief The customer of Zuma was an unnamed US Government agency. ...


18

First of all, what do we know about it's orbit? From the direction that the rocket took off, we know it's inclination was about 50 degrees. That could be adjusted higher in flight at a time that is difficult, but that's probably about right. That information and the launch time effectively confines the orbit into a plane. Less known is the altitude. The ...


17

De-orbiting isn't too bad of an option really. While a really large satellite would still have some pieces intact, it by and large will not be completely intact. Furthermore, the most sensitive things on a spacecraft tend to be the computers, antennas, and cameras. Of those, the only remotely likely to survive re-entry is the cameras, most likely only the ...


6

The answer to your question is classified. What is almost certain is that the USA launched stealth satellite in low Earth Orbit, so presumably it works well enough. These satellites were called MISTY by the amateur observers, and were hard to track. The Federation of American Scientists has a whole sourcebook dedicated to the issue of stealth in space.


5

There are other wavelengths than those discussed in this answer. On the off-chance that Zuma might broadcast data or telemetry, Canadian amateur astronomer Scott Tilley used a nice antenna and SDR to probe the sky for signals. The first post in his extensive blogging on the signal in Riddles in the Sky, A blog dedicated to observing, mostly classified, ...


5

SpaceX published a message from Gwynne Shotwell explaining that the first and second stage performed nominally and they cannot comment upon the status of a classified mission. Gwynne's statement, retweeted by ChrisB from NSF Northrup Grumman also supplied the payload adapter, the connection between the payload and the second stage. If the failure was there,...


5

There are basically 3 means of tracking satellites: Radar- Can hide from this, see anything about stealth aircraft out there (Same principals) Visible- To hide from visible, it would basically be necessary to absorb any light for anything that might be pointed to the ground. This would heat the satellite up, and might make it less useful. In theory one ...


4

This infographic should be a good representative of how many launches can be considered classified, so I'm reposting it here from the Collection of space exploration related infographics thread on our Space Exploration meta: T. McCall, M. Orcutt: Space over Time / History of Space Launches Infographic date: August 23, 2011     ...


4

There's really no way to know. There are a number of articles out there speculating, but there isn't a lot really known. What we do know is it was manufactured by Northrup Grumman, will enter Low Earth Orbit with an estimated inclination of 40-60 degrees, and was payed for by an unnammed government agency. There are 2 launches in recent memory that have ...


4

Here is what the NASA Software FAQ says: The release type determines who can have a NASA software code. If you meet the access criteria for the code (as defined below), NASA can transfer the software to you. Release types: General Public Release: For codes with a broad release and no nondisclosure or export control restrictions Open Source ...


3

update: apparently there will indeed be a Zuma launch: https://spaceflightnow.com/2018/01/02/falcon-9-zuma-mission-status-center-2/ https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/01/spacex-will-try-to-launch-the-mysterious-zuma-satellite-again-thursday/ Some speculate there is no spacecraft for the Zuma mission to begin with. From Florida Today's article SpaceX ...


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