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20

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 ...


9

NSF: SpaceX switches Falcon launch of clandestine Zuma satellite to Friday: While the contract was signed in 2015, a launch date was not determined until late-April 2017 when the government customer notified Northrop Grumman of the mandatory launch period for Zuma of 1-30 November 2017. Once the launch date was known, it is understood by ...


7

I checked the SpaceX Patch List (by /u/ticklestuff) and found only 4 patches issued by SpaceX without the symbol, they are F1 flights 1-3 and STS-133 Dragoneye (wiki). So definitely a significant symbol for the company launches. SpaceX wrote about it on their FB page in a St. Patrick post: The four leaf clover on SpaceX mission patches began with the fourth ...


6

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

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

All of the reports are that this was expending the unspent fuel from the second stage. There have been other sightings of unburnt fuel dumping, such as this one: In the other instances, there appeared to be more of a cloud, in this instance, it appeared to spin. Now, why the difference? The most likely culprits: Previous ...


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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