ZUMA Presumed a ‘Total Loss’ After Falling Into Ocean, Say Officials

ZUMA launching atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, FL Jan 7, 2018. The secretive government payload reportedly failed to reach orbit and fell into the ocean, say officials familiar with the mission in comments to the Wall Street Journal. Photo: Jeff Seibert / AmericaSpace

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that two anonymous government officials familiar with the classified ZUMA mission, launched by SpaceX on Jan 7, declare the payload a “total loss” after falling into the Atlantic Ocean.

The satellite, which reportedly cost upwards of $1 billion or more, is believed to have failed to reach orbit after not separating from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage.

Very little is known about the payload, other than the fact that Northrop Grumman built it and selected SpaceX as the launcher. What exactly ZUMA is who knows, but Northrop also confirmed to AmericaSpace last Nov that it would operate in low-Earth orbit.

Even the government agency ZUMA belongs to is a secret.

Northrop also reportedly made the payload adaptor for ZUMA, but will not comment on classified missions. SpaceX however says their rocket performed just as it was supposed to, with “data indicating Falcon 9 performed nominally”, said a spokesperson with the company. Suggesting anything that may have happened was the fault of Northrop.

ZUMA may have been SpaceX’s third classified national security payload since the US Air Force formally certified SpaceX to begin competing against ULA to launch them in May 2015, but it was surely the most secretive thus far.

ZUMA is “a write-off,” said officials to Reuters.

As for SpaceX, attention is back at launch complex 39A, where their Falcon heavy was rolled back, fully integrated, on Jan 8 for testing this week, with the company hoping to launch the mammoth triple-barreled rocket with 27 engines by the end of this month.

ZUMA launching to space, followed by SpaceX landing the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket back on dry land a few minutes later (long exposure photograph). Photo: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace

But depending on how the testing goes, SpaceX may decide to turn focus to launching the SES 16/GovSat 1 communications satellite first, according to a spokesperson with SpaceX. Which would makes sense considering that is for a paying customer, while the Falcon Heavy debut is not.

The company has not announced any dates publicly for static test fire or launch attempts yet.

Elon Musk’s original Tesla Roadster is onboard too, headed for a “billion year elliptic Mars orbit” according to Musk, even playing “Space Oddity”.

The company originally wanted Falcon Heavy flying missions beginning in “late 2013 or 2014”, but numerous delays, two exploded rockets (CRS-7 and AMOS-6), and greater than expected engineering challenges in developing Falcon Heavy all contributed to a now, much later expected debut of early 2018 for the new booster.

Falcon heavy atop 39A for the first time Dec 28, 2017. Photo: John Kraus / Instagram @johnkrausphotos

At liftoff, all 27 engines will produce as much thrust as eighteen jumbo 747 aircraft at full power, or 5.13 million pounds of thrust. That will make it the most powerful U.S. rocket since the Saturn V, which launched astronauts to the moon during NASA’s historic Apollo era, and the most powerful rocket currently operating in the world.

Given the delays and challenges, Musk has set the bar a bit low for the rocket’s first demo flight. “I hope it makes it far enough away from the pad that it does not cause pad damage,” said Musk this summer. “I would consider even that a win, to be honest.”


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  1. “…headed for a billion year elliptic Mars orbit”

    Mike, please don’t feed the trolls, the Roadster will be injected into a heliocentric orbit with an apoapsis about the same distance from the sun as Mars orbits, it will never go near anywhere Mars for hundreds of millions of years (yeah, kind of a mouthful).

    Also: the Roadster does not need to be sterilized as there is effectively zero chance of it impacting Mars. I would remind the usual suspects, every spacecraft ever launched to the red planet since the Soviet’s Beta Nu 1 in 1964, had an upper stage booster rocket that followed the spacecraft along on a similar heliocentric orbit.

  2. Mike is simply reporting on widely publicized tweets of Elon’s when stating that the Roadster is “…headed for a billion year elliptic Mars orbit”. Mike is the very last journalist that feeds trolls. In fact, I have personally watched him slay a few!!!

  3. “…said a spokesperson with the company. Suggesting anything that may have happened was the fault of Northrop

    See Lori, the Northrop guy’s statement gets interpreted for the reader, but Musk’s is unfiltered.

    • When NG decides to speak some actual real info they will get quoted too, until then boo boo. I don’t see them denying it was their fault, when SpaceX sure is.

  4. Understood …. but anyone who really follows SpaceX and FH has seen that quote a hundred times! And I’m not sure that John Taylor really meant to suggest anything other than the current data seems to show that all went well with the SpaceX equipment. However, I have watched hundreds of space missions and have seen a lot of satellite deployments. It’s hard to imagine how a satellite could remain attached to the second stage, fail to deploy, and have the launch provider not be somehow at fault. It seems as though they are implying that the F9 released the satellite, but it failed to detach and both parties ended up frying in the re-entry, with pieces scattering back on Earth, presumably in the ocean. Possibly, the satellite was damaged during its long stay in the hangar at 39A, or during its relocation to SLC 40. The launch was delayed for several while SpX investigated a fairing issue. Possibly, this is somehow related to the root cause. Since there was never an acquisition of signal post launch, it seems obvious to me that N/G had no telemetry link and was unable to control the satellite, or to guide it to its target orbit. Sadly, the only outcome would be that it would fall out of orbit, after failing to achieve her target position. Hopefully, she did not hit another satellite, or even the ISS, as she fell from LEO. And, by the way, anyone who goes after Killian gets a piece of me …. nothing personal. 🙂

  5. Why the government uses these overpriced Legacy companies who charge 100 times what the price should be and can’t even get their payload to detach is always a surprise to me. The Small sat tech that has emerged proves that redundancy is better than these overbloated – do everything – eggs in one basket systems.


    I will really be glad when SpaceX gets out of the business of launching Government payloads and stays strictly in the commercial market. Hopefully this will help with that scenario.


    This is part of a disinformation campaign as the vehicle is in orbit doing exactly what is was designed for…

  6. The 2nd stage completed at least one whole orbit and the bird was assigned a tracking number by NORAD. It was rumored to be a stealth satellite, if it could not detach from the 2nd stage because the Northrop Grumman payload adapter failed, then it could not do it’s job of being less observable. In those circumstances, they may well have had the 2nd stage go once around while trying to fix the separation issue. If they decided they could not, then they may have ordered the whole thing ditched.

    Alternatively, what they wanted to detach detached, and the whole kerfluffle is cover for that.

  7. “After review of all data to date, Falcon 9 did everything correctly on Sunday night,” said the statement from Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX. “If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately. Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false. Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible.”

  8. Highly secretive, classified spacecraft falls to earth. A total misinformation/misdirection statement to remove focus from Zuma’s mission. Zuma is an Afican (Zulu) word that means “to lie down in ambush, to take by surprise or to fall upon something unexpectedly”. It also means “death by surprise”. It is a name that defines what the satellite was designed to do. It’s in orbit.

  9. Mick,
    I am with you considering All News is now Fake News or rather Click News designed to generate click revenue this is part of the program and no one at SpaceX can say anything…It’s a secret mission designed to put the cabash on North Korea soon…

    • “It’s a secret mission designed to put the cabash on North Korea soon…” – Tracy the Troll

      Really? If so, then maybe ZUMA was supposed to be a thermobaric weapon test to notify folks in many other places, too!

      An option for a super large and powerful 150 tonne or even 250 tonne BFR second stage as a thermobaric hypersonic glide weapon could be the up and coming Fractional Orbital Bombardment “secret” thing and maybe much easier to sell than the BFR simply transporting hundreds of costly ‘killer robots’, right? Add the BFR second stage’s hypersonic glide kinetic energy to the integrated thermobaric weapon of the second stage and the expendable BFR’s second stage could release well above the 1 kiloton energy explosion of a small nuclear weapon.

      Launch a bunch of expendable BFRs with second stages as thermobaric-kinetic energy weapons and the nasty damage to wherever they hit in a carefully timed and preplanned cluster could be much more than the damage and people killed by the 15 kilotons of TNT energy equivalent released by the “Little Boy” atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

      “In the 2010s it was reported that the new Russian RS-28 Sarmat heavy ICBM could be FOBS-capable.”


      Russia having RS-28 Sarmat heavy ICBMs that are FOBS-capable, means we obviously ‘need’ or ‘want’ the not so “secret” FOBS-capable hypersonic glide thermobaric warhead second stage of the BFR for small nuclear warhead equivalent attack capabilities for various conventional or non-nuclear wars and the FOBS-capable BFR for dispensing dozens of hypersonic glide nuclear warheads and hundreds of decoys in a nuclear war.


      “Payload to LEO 150,000 kg (330,000 lb) reusable 250,000 kg (550,000 lb) expendable”

      From: BFR (rocket) Wikipedia
      At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BFR_(rocket)

    • “…250,000 kg (550,000 lb) expendable”
      There is no such thing as a planned “expendable” BFR, you are making things up. As usual.

      “…thermobaric-kinetic energy weapon” is a non sequitur, it makes no sense whatsoever.
      “Thermometric weapon does not go with “kinetic” weapon.

      A Thermometric bomb is a type of large fuel-air device that contains a relatively low density fluid that is used to create an aerosol that mixes with oxygen in the air for explosive power.
      A kinetic energy weapon (in this context) is a pointed tungsten rod that impacts the target at hypersonic speed (Law Dart from hell…project Thor).

      Not only are these two things totally opposite in form, function and physics, the BFR stage-2 is not applicable to, nor suitable for, either one of these things – AT ALL.
      Once again, you demonstrate a knowledge of physics and engineering at about an eight grade level.
      Not even entertaining. Not even mediocre science fiction. Just wasted bytes.

      • A rapid-strike Hypersonic Weapon System with a “250,000 kg (550,000 lb) expendable” FOBS-capable hypersonic glide thermometric bomb “BFR stage-2” is probably much more genetically credible than highly risky, costly, and useless Mars colonies endlessly supported by a massively belching CO2 and upper atmosphere polluting and ozone destroying sometimes ‘airliner’ sometimes Lunar rocket ship and sometimes deep space mission billionaire owned spaceship.

        The “BFR stage-2 is not applicable” to doing human Moon base and Mars colonies building missions and the human ‘airliner’ roles, but you can find endless chattering folks like you proclaiming its greatness for all three roles and clearly demonstrating “a knowledge of physics and engineering at about an eight grade level. Not even entertaining. Not even mediocre science fiction. Just wasted bytes..”

        News of the money and political and military genes of the BFR’s SpaceX/Space Exploration Technologies rapid-strike Hypersonic Weapon System appeared in a Falcon 1 launch failure back on March 24, 2006, long before the first successful Falcon 1 launch on September 28,2008:

        “Potential SpaceX customers were looking forward today’s launch, especially since the U.S. Air Force has awarded SpaceX contract worth up to $100 million to launch satellites under its DARPA/FALCON program.”

        From: ‘SpaceX’s Inaugural Falcon 1 Rocket Lost Just After Launch’
        By Tariq Malik, Space.com Managing Editor | March 24, 2006
        At: https://www.space.com/2196-spacex-inaugural-falcon-1-rocket-lost-launch.html

        What was the “DARPA/FALCON program” that apparently “awarded SpaceX contract worth up to $100 million to launch satellites” long prior to the first successful Falcon 1 launch on September 28, 2008?

        “The DARPA Falcon Project (Force Application and Launch from CONtinental United States) is a two-part joint project between the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the United States Air Force (USAF) and is part of Prompt Global Strike.[1] One part of the program aims to develop a reusable, rapid-strike Hypersonic Weapon System (HWS), now retitled the Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle (HCV), and the other is for the development of a launch system capable of accelerating an HCV to cruise speeds, as well as launching small satellites into earth orbit. This two-part program was announced in 2003 and continued into 2006.[2]

        And, “The DARPA FALCON solicitation in 2003 asked for bidders to do development work on proposed vehicles in a first phase of work, then one or more vendors would be selected to build and fly an actual launch vehicle. Companies which won first phase development contracts of $350,000 to $540,000 in November 2003 included:[9]
        • AirLaunch LLC, Reno Nevada
        • Andrews Space Inc., Seattle Washington
        • Exquadrum Inc., Victorville California
        • KT Engineering, Huntsville Alabama
        • Lockheed Martin Corp., New Orleans Louisiana
        • Microcosm Inc., El Segundo California
        • Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles Virginia
        • Schafer Corp., Chelmsford Massachusetts
        • Space Exploration Technologies, Hawthorne California”

        From: ‘DARPA Falcon Project’ Wikipedia
        At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DARPA_Falcon_Project#Small_Launch_Vehicle

        This is clearly bad Space Exploration Technologies/SpaceX “reusable, rapid-strike Hypersonic Weapon System” ‘genetic news’ for the foolish Mars Colonies Soon and BFR fantasy cult spinners like se jones, but such is life.

        • Hi Gary,

          In reality, the development by the DoD of a hypersonic strike platform with or without FAE warheads has nothing to do with the development of the MethaLOx BFR, other than that the BFR could pre-position that FOB system in LEO far less expensively than any other system in or rumored to be in development.

          The rest of everything you said was word salad, not worth replying to.

          • I was starting to believe a rational comment section would develop here. Knew I should have invested in autopaste.

        • Hi James,

          Your observations seem more likely than Musk’s Mars/Moon scenarios. What has struck me about Musk’s vision of landing on the moon and Mars is the likelihood of the 157ft tall BFR second stage toppling over as it lands on an undulating surface. With a 30ft diameter, the second stage is going to need a large area of even surface and shallow craters to land, no matter how sophisticated the righting system is. This concept was considered in the early days of the Apollo program. It was dumped as it was impracticable. If an area was prepared for a landing by a preceding, robotic mission – then maybe.

          Musk’s connections to the CIA and some dubious politicians indicate the man is not what he may seem to be. His legal challenge for the right to launch classified payloads always struck me as odd. In hindsight it seems more like it was a staged event to create the impression that the Air Force wasn’t supporting SpaceX and that the company was an independent, maverick entity struggling against the military/industrial complex. Reality seems to be the opposite.

          • “…the right to launch classified payloads always struck me as odd. In hindsight it seems more like it was a staged event”

            That is a bizarre statement worthy of James & Gary.

            How ironic, the very next AmericaSpace report after this on is “Delta IV Medium+ (5,2) Launches Final Mission, Delivers Secretive NROL-47 Payload to Orbit” http://www.americaspace.com/2018/01/12/delta-iv-medium-52-launches-final-mission-delivers-secretive-nrol-47-payload-to-orbit/

            “FINAL MISSION” Get it? Boeing/ULA is finally putting this overpriced turkey out of its misery after 16 years of utter failure in the marketplace. In its entire history, the Boeing Delta IV only launched ONE commercial payload. One. This rocket has been 100% subsidized by the government by forcing the DoD to use it for military launches to the tune of over $200 million -two hundred million dollars- per launch. The DoD pays money to launch things, once SpaceX F9 entered the market place (after suing to be allowed to compete) for less than half the Delta IV price, Boeing/ULA has finally pulled the plug on their overpriced vehicle.

            I’m a founding member of the Mars Society, I was at the Mars Society conference where Elon Musk came to learn about our history and plans for the red planet. Musk was an information sponge and it was delightful to see the dawn of his enthusiasm for making life “multiplanet”.

            If you choose to see nefarious conspiracy behind everything, that’s your choice, tinfoil hats are inexpensive so enjoy yourself.

            Air Force budget reveals how much SpaceX undercuts launch prices (Spoiler alert: It’s a lot.)

            • Not sure I understand what point you are trying to make se jones. The only comment you made that I can respond to is Musk’s enthusiasm for Mars. I don’t doubt he is very enthusiastic about his plans for Mars. Not an issue. Now I don’t “…see nefarious conspiracy behind everything,…”. Not sure how you made that deduction about me. I don’t see, for example, the Mars Society as a CIA controlled group. In Musk’s case there are some facts. The most telling is the fact that his company was founded, in part, on CIA money. The CIA is not a charity organization. It uses money to buy influence/control. It wouldn’t care about Musk’s dreams. The CIA would only be interested in what it wants from SpaceX. This is the reality of what Musk is – a visionary subject to external influences. James’ point is valid: the BFR is a system that would be a huge asset to the military world and the scheming CIA. The world is complex. It’s not black and white; good guys vs bad guys. Reality is Machiavellian. Call it conspiracy if you want but nothing is as it seems when it comes to the struggle for power, control and wealth.

              I hope you dreams for Mars are realized in your lifetime. You are obviously emotionally invested in this dream as a founding member of the Mars Society. Growing up during the Apollo era I could see no wrong with anything NASA. I had tunnel vision, an almost worship like mindset. I was so focused on Apollo. With maturity came understanding, knowledge and the capacity to question all things and, with these, a distressing reality check. The world is run on thousands of conspiracies, deceptions, greed, self-interest, corruption and incompetence. Amongst this you have people like Musk who have genuine dreams and a drive to achieve the impossible, to make things better for humanity. These people are as vulnerable to machinations of those working for dark reasons as anyone. Musk was guided, in his early days, by a CIA operative. That’s a fact. Did Musk yield to this influence so he good achieve his dream? Maybe. What is interesting to note is the naming of the classified payload just launched: Zuma. Apart from the meaning I gave above, what is of interest is the fact it is an African word. Musk is African. Is that a coincidence? Maybe. Or could it be an indication that Musk is onboard with its objective – for good or bad. Who knows.

              se jones, there is a saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Musk is involved with powerful people, people who want control. Musk has thrown the world of commercial rocket launches up side down. He is a massive threat to the wealth of others. The companies he is associated with – Tesla, Boring Company – will do the same to automotive industry and power supply industry. Given the level of power this challenges, Musk couldn’t survive without the kind of protection necessary to keep operating. That’s reality, not a conspiracy. Have a read about the power struggle Howard Hughes went through when he ventured into the world of commercial air flight. He had no protection from the power block in government. Musk is a vastly greater threat to the existing power groups than Hughes ever was. Again, this isn’t a conspiracy theory. It is historical fact that paints a picture of the ongoing struggle between powerful groups that is reality.

              There are small groups like the Mars Society that engender passion in its members but have no significant influence on how the world of power and politics works. They push an ideal that is a collective dream but are incapable of any meaningful influence and exist in the hope they will inspire someone of real power and influence to take on their cherished hopes. Then there are groups like the Boeing Company belongs to, which include politicians, money men, spooks etc, where money and influence garner the overriding lust for power, control and wealth. And, yes, they exist in a world governed by conspiracies. That’s reality.

              • “Musk was guided, in his early days, by a CIA operative”

                Yeah jerkoff, so was I. I joined AIAA when I was a junior in college, I’ve been a member for my entire career. Mike Griffin was president-elect of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). I voted for him. I’ve spent lots of time with Mike, including a day looking over captured German warplanes at the Engen Restoration Hangar in Maryland (very cool place BTW).
                -So I guess that makes me a suspect CIA operative-

                I’ve worked on several DoD projects, including and APL project for hush hush USN phased array systems.
                -So I guess that makes me a suspect CIA operative-

                You can carry out these childish conspiracy theories all day long, be my guest. Heck, Moon Miner Mailman James probably once delivered a letter to someone in the CIA. OH MY GOD…-he’s a suspect CIA operative-!

                The military intelligence agencies (including CIA) are over $57 billion, it’s hard to find anything that flies, drives, floats, computes, images, communicates…whatever, that doesn’t touch the CIA in some way. SpaceX included.

                “…Musk is African. Is that a coincidence? Good lord. Make more hats, I’ll buy more Alcoa stock, we both win.

              • “Given the level of power this challenges, Musk couldn’t survive without the kind of protection necessary to keep operating.”

                So if “powerful” people like Musk are able to buy protection in order to survive, why didn’t the gigantic Boeing Corporation ($94.6 billion in sales) buy a little “protection” for its Delta IV? (see the next story above this one right in front of your face http://www.americaspace.com/2018/01/12/delta-iv-medium-52-launches-final-mission-delivers-secretive-nrol-47-payload-to-orbit/). Boeing has a dozen small divisions that are larger than SpaceX, but SpaceX brought down Boeing’s sad venture into commercial launch vehicles. Next stop: Lockheed Martin when they give up on their Vulcan Rube Goldberg rocket.

                And again, about subsidies: Delta IV was ALL subsidies for the last 16 years, where’s the outrage?

                • se jones you have a very impressive resume. Your life’s journey prepared you well for your part in the founding of the Mars Society. No I don’t think you are a “suspect CIA operative”. Relative to Musk, you would be of no interest to the CIA. You would have had nothing of value the organization would want. So don’t worry about me or anyone thinking you are a CIA anything.

                  What I like to look for is common ground rather than points of conflict. So it is rewarding to see that we agree the CIA has its fingers in SpaceX, as I pointed out. The CIA area of operation is international issues, not domestic. It has no legal authority to fund any project. So these ventures by the CIA are illegal. When taxpayer money is used, it is meant to be formally recorded. What the CIA is doing is acting like a government, rather than a subordinate organization of the government. That concerns me.

                  There is an issue that has become more obvious with each of your responses to my meager offerings – you seem to have serious anger issues. Your words are bordering on hostile. They are definitely offensive and demeaning. People with these kind of issues usually have troubled pasts – maybe a difficult childhood or a bad experience that left them feeling rejected, unwanted. This kind of psychological baggage usually finds a release through the process of venting ones stored up hurt and anger, which you seem to do through your replies to posts you find unacceptable. I think this is robbing you of the joy that can be found in the open exchange of ideas.

                  I, at least, believe you have a lot to offer, given your background, to the broad community of fellow space enthusiasts. I encourage you to seek help with your problems.

                  • Mick,
                    I assumed that the money the CIA sent to Spacex was to counter all the funds to nowhere that boeing and Lockmart got from congress to maintain the most expensive space launch systems known to man. NASA and the Air Force have been looking for cheap access to space…Since Apollo. Remember the SSTO Venture Star and X-33 prototype that government put $1B into and got nothing? I think this really left a bad taste in a lot of mouths at NASA and the Air Force.

                    • Yep, a lot of money wasted on the space program. The reality is that the space program has been a money spinner and political tool. As to the CIA’s funding – it is all illegal. The CIA cannot fund anything – not even a picnic. When it does fund projects through front companies, it is seeking to control it for illegal operations.

                    • Mick,
                      There was Secretary of State in a recent administration that was caught selling government approvals to companies in exchange for “Donations” to her and husbands foundation. They accumulated 100 of millions of dollars for themselves. The opposition party suggested that they would not comment on this issue…Because it could just as easily been them. The oversite governing authorities did not want to pursue it further because initial review showed such a large number of people involved…It could collapse the government with no one able to run it except for the Military…

                      So I think we are way past calling the CIA’s funding of SpaceX an illegal operation… Without them doing this…We never get off this rock….Just Sayin

                    • “…X-33 prototype that government put $1B into and got nothing?

                      Tracy, we always get something for our investment in R&D, always.

                      It’s unfortunate that X33 didn’t make it to flight test, but all sorts of valuable R&D was conducted on advanced aerostructures, aerothermodynamics, thermal protection and propulsion. Perhaps the most obvious, was the R&D on complex composite aerostructures able to hold cryogenic propellants. This work is in the public domain, and clearly SpaceX was able to take advantage of it for their R&D on the BFR tankage. (now cue idiots to whine about subsidies).

                    • @Tracy the Troll January 15, 2018 at 5:33 pm

                      No, the opposition has never said they will not comment on the issue. In fact, they comment on the issue a lot. What they cannot do, with the FBI so compromised, is prosecute.

                    • TomPerkins,

                      Don’t you remember this…




                      This did happen …To me this is kind of what the AI takeover will look like when it starts…Websites putting out info that the Elite and the government will not respond to and just get worse from there..

                    • se jones,

                      My correction then its good to know we got something out of the X-33 theft…All along I thought that all R&D achieved was the sole property of the contractor.

                      Strangely enough…

                      “ARCA Space Corporation has announced its linear aerospike engine is ready to start ground tests as the company moves towards installing the engine in its Demonstrator 3 rocket.”

                      This was after the purchase of the engine design from an unnamed 3rd party..

                    • “…got something out of the X-33 theft”

                      THEFT?? What the hell are you talking about?

                      “All along I thought that all R&D achieved was the sole property of the contractor” No.
                      Procurement contracting is complicated, but the default law of the 1958 Space Act is that everything is property of the agency, and as such is in the public domain.

                      You have a computer with internet, you are free to read Public Law 85-568 that created NASA in 1958.

                      Public Law 85-568 July 29, 1958 ^^ ACT [H.R. 12575] rpp provide for research into problems of flight within and outside the earth’s atmosphere, and for other purposes.
                      Act of 1958. TITLE I—SHORT TITLE, DECLARATION OF POLICY, AND DEFINITIONS SHORT TITLE SEC. 101. This Act may be cited as the “National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958”.

                      PROPERTY RIGHTS I N INVENTIONS SEC. 305. (a) Whenever any invention is made in the performance of any work under any contract of the Administration, and the Administrator determines that— (1) the person who made the invention was employed or assigned to perform research, development, or exploration work and the invention is related to the work he was employed or assigned to perform, or that it was within the scope of his employment duties, whether or not it was made during working hours, or with a contribution by the Government of the use of Government facilities, equipment, materials, allocated funds, information proprietary to the Government, or services of Government employees during working hours; or (2) the person who made the invention was not employed or assigned to perform research, development, or exploration work, but the invention is nevertheless related to the contract, or to the work or duties he was employed or assigned to perform, and was made during working hours, or with a contribution from the Government of the sort referred to in clause (1) such invention shall be the exclusive property of the United States,
                      and if such invention is patentable a patent therefor shall be issued
                      to the United States upon application made by the Administrator,
                      unless the Administrator waives all or any part of the rights of the
                      United States to such invention in conformity with the provisions of
                      subsection (f) of this section

                      (b) Each contract entered into by the Administrator with any party for the performance of any work shall contain effective provisions under which such party shall furnish promptly to the Administrator a written report containing full and complete technical information concerning any invention, discovery, improvement, or innovation which may be made in the performance of any such work. (c) No patent may be issued to any applicant other than the Administrator for any invention which appears to the Commissioner of Patents to have significant utility in the conduct of aeronautical and space activities unless the applicant files with the Commissioner, with the application or within thirty days after request therefor by the Commissioner, a written statement executed under oath setting forth the full facts concerning the circumstances under which such invention was made and stating the relationship (if any) of such invention to the performance of any work under any contract of the Administration. Copies of each such statement and the application to which it relates shall be transmitted forthwith by the Commissioner to the Administrator. (d)

                      (h) The Administrator is authorized to take all suitable and necessary steps to protect any invention or discovery to which he has title, and to require that contractors or persons who retain title to inventions or discoveries under this section protect the inventions or discoveries to which the Administration has or may acquire a license of use.

                    • “…we got something out of the X-33 theft…engine design from an unnamed 3rd party”

                      Tracy, I gather from this and other X-33 comments you’ve made, that you think there is A aerospike engine that NASA paid for, Lockheed “stole” and now Haas has a copy of it for their rocket.
                      You aren’t paying attention.

                      Aerospike is a type of engine configuration, but there is no ONE aerospike engine.

                      The Haas vehicle is 4.95 ft (59 in) in diameter. Looking at the rendering, the engine is only about 4 ft (48 in) across.

                      The Haas is like a toy, no larger than a common sounding rocket, their rendering makes it look like their engine is the same size as the X-33 engine. It’s not.
                      Tracy, you gotta look past the pretty pictures.

                      The little Haas engine is pressure fed and runs on Hydrogen Peroxide Oxidizer with RP-1 (jet) fuel, producing only ~70,000 lbf thrust.

                      The X-33 engine was comparatively huge, 11 ft (134 in) wide and used Saturn V J-2 turbo pumps & thrust chambers running on Liquid Oxygen oxidizer with Liquid Hydrogen fuel producing 409,826 lbf thrust.

                      Haas engine: 48 in wide, pressure fed Oxidizer Hydrogen Peroxide Fuel RP-1
                      Total thrust ~70,000 lbf

                      X-33 engine: 134 in. wide, Saturn SII J-2 turbopump fed Liquid Oxygen oxidizer with Liquid Hydrogen fuel
                      Thrust: 1,823.00 kN (409,826 lbf)

                    • Tracy the Troll January 16, 2018 at 12:58 pm

                      So Rubio didn’t want to talk about it once, and you are pretending I’m hallucinating how they are talking about it now?

                      Alternatively, anytime anyone asks about they MUST talk about it then, even if they don’t want to? They can’t talk about it any other time, only when you want them to have talked about it counts?>

                    • se jones,
                      Per “Halfway to Anywhere” by G. Harry Stine…

                      Lockheed Martin/NASA agreement language that was awarded on 7/2/1996 which NASA would put up $900M and LM to put up $220M of cash and in kind R&D. Plus LM was to put up $2B into the final production Venture Star craft. This was contingent on an all government launch exclusive and a anticipate 90% market capture by LM for commercial launches. LM would “own” all R&D from the project.

                    • OK. Lets clarify the point Funding FOR the CIA is not illegal. Funding BY the CIA of projects is illegal.

              • ” Musk was guided, in his early days, by a CIA operative. That’s a fact. ”

                Oh yeah? Who? And the person was acting at the behest of the CIA at that time on the basis of what evidence? You have what evidence the CIA has funded SpaceX?

                You are a clown. You just put on the floppy shoes and wig right in front of us.

                Skepticism of obvious tinfoil mad hattery is not evidence of anger issues.

                • Wow! So true. Skepticism is not a sign of anger issues. It is a healthy way to view all things. On the other hand, derogatory, demeaning, insulting and not nice words are a definite sign of anger issues – and immaturity.

                  • ” derogatory, demeaning, insulting and not nice words ”

                    Are what tin foil hat stupidity deserves. Every bit of derision a responder can bother to must for it.

                • ” Musk was guided, in his early days, by a CIA operative. That’s a fact.”
                  Oh yeah? Who?

                  Mike Griffin. Mike Griffin is a former AIAA president, NASA administrator and was a manager at CIA’s venture capital arm.

                  in 2002 when Elon Musk was looking into his Mars Terrarium demo project, Musk, Griffin and a few others went on a business trip to Russia to look into buying rockets from Kosmotras. Nothing came of that and Musk decided to just build his own rocket.

                  I replied to this Mick clown that I know Griffin quite well through AIAA, so that makes me a suspect CIA operative as well.

                  I realize now that “Mick” had no idea what I was talking about, Mick doesn’t know who Mike Griffin is or the details of that Russian trip, Mick just buys into the urban legend crap that Elon Musk is “guided by” a CIA operative.

                  I’ve worked on classified engineering projects, I’ve belonged to AIAA since the 80’s, I know (and admire) Mike Griffin, therefor I am, no doubt, a CIA plant on this website. Guilt by association. So obvious.

                  What can you say? If you call these conspiracy nuts on their ignorance, they come back with psychobabble about your childhood, but they never have any real citations to back up their crap.

          • If SpaceX can land a rocket on a pitching, rolling, translating deck in the Atlantic or Pacific ocean, they can find a suitably flat 100 foot square on Mars or the Moon. The Apollo studies were for a lot more than just landing site issues and they didn’t have the benefit of among other things high fidelity mapping and GNC techniques we have today:


            This is a completely solvable problem today and regardless of the landing configuration would use technology similar to above link to ensure benign landing spot. Stability of a system like this is a relatively simple function of CoM and the number of legs and leg radius. All can be easily simulated ahead of time to ensure that landing sites meet minimum criteria with margin. This is was already baked into the EDL cake.

          • “…157ft tall BFR second stage toppling over”

            The same concerns were expressed over landing F9 on rolling & pitching ships at sea. Ridiculous, impossible, never happen …oh wait.

            Like the F9, the BFR vehicles have a deceptively low CG because most of the mass in the engines in the base. The BFR ship when landing on Mars, will have empty main propellant tanks, the landing engines are fed by small “header tanks” in the base of the vehicle, again low CG.

            A large percentage of the Martian surface has been photographed at high resolution by MRO HiRISE, there is plenty of smooth terrain to land on. Many suitable sites were evaluated at the Landing Site/Exploration Zone Workshop for Human Missions in Huston in 2015. https://www.nasa.gov/journeytomars/mars-exploration-zones

            It’s not 1966, it’s 2018 Mick, comparisons to designing the crude Apollo LM aren’t valid.

            There are several forums on r/spacex and NSF where engineers discuss the landing issues of the tall vehicle. I’d tell you to go there, but you seem more interested in CIA tin foil hat stuff.

            • All valid points. Yes it is 2018 and by the time Musk gets to Mars it will be 2020 or later. Technology is always advancing and improving the probability of BFR success. But for all that, BFR is a risky concept given the height of the structure. It would be interesting to know the maximum tilt angle for the structure. As for a level area to land in – well it maybe level and it may not be as level as it looks. The surface structure is going to be critical. Will it be solid ground or a soft, unstable regolith, like the type that stranded Opportunity? Spaceflight is a constant game of planning for the worst but reality always throughs out the unexpected. To me it a matter of a structure 157ft tall landing on an unprepared surface. As for the Falcon 9 landing on a rolling barge – it’s flat and the structure’s CG is very low! Just saying.

        • More money and political and military BFR “Prompt Global Strike” and “reusable, rapid-strike Hypersonic Weapon System” genetic news is needed!

          “While the development of Falcon 1 was privately funded, the first two Falcon 1 launches were purchased by the United States Department of Defense under a program that evaluates new US launch vehicles suitable for use by DARPA.[6][9][10]”

          And, “Launches previously planned, but never flown on Falcon 1
          As part of a US$15 million contract, Falcon 1 was to carry the TacSat-1[11] in 2005. By late May 2005, SpaceX stated that Falcon 1 was ready to launch TacSat-1 from Vandenberg. But the Air Force did not want the launch of an untested rocket to occur until the final Titan IV flew from nearby SLC 4E. Subsequent and repeated delays due to Falcon 1 launch failures delayed TacSat-1’s launch. After TacSat-2 was launched on an Orbital Sciences Minotaur I on December 16, 2006, the Department of Defense re-evaluated the need for launching TacSat-1. In August 2007, the Department of Defense canceled the planned launch of TacSat-1[12] because all of the TacSat objectives had been met.”

          And, “The fourth flight of the Falcon 1 rocket successfully flew on 28 September 2008, delivering a 165-kilogram (363-pound) non-functional boilerplate spacecraft into low Earth orbit.[36]”

          From: ‘Falcon 1’ Wikipedia
          At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_1

          “SpaceX originally intended to follow its light Falcon 1 launch vehicle with an intermediate capacity vehicle, the Falcon 5.[27]” In 2005, SpaceX announced it was instead proceeding with development of the Falcon 9, a ‘fully reusable heavy lift launch vehicle’, and had already secured a government customer.”

          From: ‘Falcon 9’ Wikipedia
          At:: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9

          Was that a super early anchor customer for the Falcon 9 in “2005” three long years before the Falcon 1 finally managed to fly into orbit “on 28 September 2008”? What a government ‘deal’!

          Do all new rocket companies get to have such a super ‘lovely and early bird’ “government customer”?

          Which super powerful group of folks decides such ‘lovely and early bird’ “government customer” things?

          Who all knew about the ‘wonderful’ and potentially highly profitable ‘lovely early bird gets the worm’ ‘government customer’ thing, and exactly when and how do they find out?

          What else did they know and exactly when did they first gain such information and who provided the information?

          Was all this above noted ‘lovely early bird gets the worm’ government contract or subsidy stuff a super sugar sweet semi-secret ‘deal’ for all the early powerful and politically well-connected insider investors in SpaceX?

          If so, maybe President Trump needs to assign a big team of outsider legal and space experts to carefully explore and maybe even drain the hugely profitable deep state insider swamp or suggest some needed reality based changes and improvements in our laws, right?

          Is SpaceX going to build lots of hyper secret killer robots, laser armed satellites and super drones, huge numbers of small rapid-strike Hypersonic Glide Weapon Systems, and various super large thermobaric hypersonic glide weapons which can all be delivered by the expendable, partially reusable, or fully reusable BFR, and is that why some folks think SpaceX is supposedly valued at 20 billion dollars and going to have even a much higher valuation?

          If SpaceX’s evaluation is truly 20 billion dollars and headed towards 50 billion, then maybe all those politically well-protected and super connected ‘insider investment friends’ of our government’s DARPA and CIA folks are going to fight super duper hard against any attempts to explore or drain any part of the hugely profitable deep state insider swamp, right?

          Are such multi-billion dollar ‘deals’ are just a part of the endless “power struggle” life ‘inside the Beltway’ for the ‘wonderful’ “politicians, money men, spooks etc, where money and influence garner the overriding lust for power, control and wealth”?

          “There are no accidents in politics.” Joseph P. Kennedy
          –Remark to a reporter, 1960.

          At: https://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/Ready-Reference/JPK-Fast-Facts/Quotations.aspx

          Wow! Joseph P. Kennedy certainly knew about making money and a bit about national politics, too, didn’t he?


    • Well presented and reasoned post. Joseph P Kennedy: yep, he was a man who knew about the world of corruption, where power, control and wealth was based on deals devoid of ethics.

      • ” If the CIA and DARPA and Air Force folks and their insider and political friends own some nice pieces of SpaceX ” <– Try showing they own any pieces of SpaceX.

        ” Maybe the big money folks can buy or ‘keep out of the loop’ many politicians, including Vice Presidents and Presidents. ” <– Keep out of what loop?

        ” Building all the … on 1/17/ 1961 At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military%E2%80%93industrial_complex ” <– ULA is the conmplex. The SLS is the expression of such corruption.

        SpaceX is not.

        You are batsh!t insane. Or, owing the inability of this comment system to verify identities, someone is using you handle to spew idiocy.

      • James,
        I think you are confused as to what is coming. Strong AI is coming…The elite know this…The Strong AI is NOT coming for my job, rather it is coming for those who presently control the planet. Those weapon systems above are to fight this Strong AI. The Mars Fantasy Colonies Soon is the plan the Elite have to getaway from the Strong AI. Musk has already said Mars is NOT far enough to get away from AI. Still they must try.

        • TomDPerkins

          I have hope for James…He just has the good guys and bad guys mixed up.

      • “highly CO2 polluting”

        You ignorant nitwit, each launch of your government pork SLS rocket will put several times more CO2 into the atmosphere than a SpaceX BFR. Where do you think NASA gets the hydrogen to fuel the SLS, a herd of magic hydrogen farting unicorns at the Kennedy Space Center?

        There’s no free hydrogen on earth, no hydrogen wells. The hydrogen for SLS is made by steam reforming natural gas, in huge 600F reformer towers (heated by natural gas). Then the hydrogen must be liquefied in huge compression/expansion machines powered by massive amounts of electricity made by coal or natural gas.

        Once the liquid hydrogen is made while belching gigantic amounts of CO2 into atmosphere, the cryogenic hydrogen is hauled from metro New Orleans to KSC in huge diesel powered insulated tanker trucks. It will take a convoy of 100 trucks to haul the hydrogen from Louisiana to KSC for one launch of an SLS with the EUS.

        And of course, the SLS is thrown away with each flight. About 700 times more CO2 is produced building one SLS airframe, as one BFR flight will emit. Seven Hundred Times.

        And all that ignores the THREE MILLION POUNDS of CO2, sulfur, carbon monoxide, hydrochloric acid, ammonium perchlorate, aluminum oxide, aluminum chloride, NOX, benzine and other aromatic hydrocarbons from the SLS solid rocket boosters. Each SRB is a orders of magnitude more damaging the ozone layer as a BFR.

        All of the rocket launches on earth in a year, produce about as much CO2 as one afternoon’s aircraft traffic at LAX. Even a fleet of BFRs will produce a tiny fraction of the CO2 emitted by vehicular traffic.

        And no retard…it doesn’t matter WHERE you emit CO2, it’s uniformly mixed in the atmosphere, there’s no “CO2 in the upper atmosphere vs lower atmosphere CO2, which you would know if you knew any EIGHTH GRADE SCIENCE.

        So go on, keep making a fool of yourself, every time you post something about CO2 and rockets, you almost make Gary Church look sane by comparison.

        • Every time you go running to Wikipedia to paste two dozen irrelevant paragraphs like an eight grader’s term paper, I can’t decide if it’s more hilarious or just sad.

          “lots of good ways” in other words, magic hydrogen farting unicorns.
          You had no idea did you? You must have failed the chemical engineering part of the postman exam.

          There’s only one source of industrial quantities of Liquid hydrogen in the real world, steam-methane(natural gas) reforming and liquefaction (six-thousand kilowatts per kilogram).

          January 22, 2015
          DANBURY, Conn., January 22, 2015 — Praxair, Inc. (NYSE: PX), North America’s largest industrial gases manufacturer and largest liquid hydrogen producer, has been awarded NASA’s agency-wide Acquisition of Liquid Hydrogen contract. Praxair’s hydrogen supply network will serve four NASA sites, including Stennis Space Center, Mississippi; Kennedy Space Center, Florida; Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama; and Glenn Research Center, Ohio. NASA projected the maximum value of the five-year contract to be $53 million.

          Praxair’s hydrogen manufacturing infrastructure and delivery capability satisfies NASA’s stringent standards for product quality and on-time delivery to fulfill the agency’s missions. NASA uses liquid hydrogen as fuel for rocket engine development, testing and launch of spacecraft; delivery of satellites into earth orbit; and delivery of payloads to the International Space Station.

          In addition to the hydrogen supply, NASA awarded Praxair a five-year liquid oxygen supply agreement for the Kennedy Space Center, and previously, the Department of Defense awarded Praxair a five-year liquid hydrogen supply agreement for missions launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

        • Oh that’s good. SRBs using China Lake compound.
          Not only is it hideously expensive and dangerous to manufacture, the Hydrogen cyanide and Nitric oxides in the exhaust are what makes photo-chemical smog, so when the ultra fine aerosols from when this stuff combines with water vapor will be extra efficient at catalyzing ozone destruction. Of course high molecular weight binders and plasticizes must be added to CL-20 for use in big SRBs so that the grain doesn’t “slump” and flow in the motor case in the hot Florida sun.
          (Mmmmm refrigerated SRBs, maybe that’s the answer to making giant SRBs more economical)

          Stratospheric Ozone Depletion
          Astropolitics ISSN: 1477-7622
          Martin Ross et al. March 2009

          “SRMs cause so much ozone loss that if all launches were on SRMs, the
          market could not likely grow at all beyond the current situation, and so SRMs are not likely to play a major role when proposing large increases in payload delivered to orbit. Whether large growth comes about with expendable or reusable systems they will almost certainly have to be LRE systems, at least from an ozone loss point of view. Accordingly, we do not consider SRMs any further in this paper and concentrate our attention on LRE emissions for the remainder of this paper.

          Study Calls for Effort to Limit Rockets’ Pollution
          By WARREN E. LEARY,
          New York Times: October 18, 1991

          Solid-fuel rockets are the biggest source of rocket pollutants that can harm the atmosphere. Burning a common component, ammonium perchlorate, produces tons of hydrochloric acid and chlorine, which acts as a catalyst to break down ozone, a form of oxygen that protects the earth from harmful solar radiation.

          The United States uses more solid rockets than any other nation, including the powerful boosters that propel the space shuttle and the giant, unmanned Titan 4 launcher. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration estimates that each space shuttle flight deposits about 75 tons of chlorine into the ozone layer, which begins about a dozen miles above the ground.

          But Mr. Aftergood, who helped draft the document, said he disagreed with its conclusion that rockets under development should not be modified. NASA is developing new boosters that will allow larger payloads in shuttles, but they basically are designed much like the old ones and use the same fuel.

          “I think NASA’s Advanced Solid Rocket Motor program is a step in the wrong direction,” Mr. Aftergood said. “Environmentally, it’s more of the same, and it’s unfortunate we are spending money on this program when it could go to developing a new generation of launch vehicles.”

  10. According to Aviation Week, there is not agreement on whether Zuma fell into the Indian Ocean or not. (Not the Atlantic, as WSJ was reporting.)

    In the Aviation Week article, they quote Ted Molczan as stating that there will be a search to determine whether Zuma actually is up, or not. Perhaps by Spring? Current time frame not good for detecting new satellites due to lighting conditions in near Earth orbit.

  11. Why is Musk launching his roadster on a Mars yrajectory? Because he owns the rocket, car & is paying for this launch.

    • “…how will Mr. Elon Musk pay for the ‘damages’”

      To receive a launch permit from the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation, all commercial vehicles must have approved launch insurance, Aon International Space Brokers (ISB) is the most commonly used insurance provider.

      The inaugural launches of the Saturn I back in 1961 carried water (or sand) ballast, but every inaugural flight of the big rockets since then has carried live spacecraft hardware, including the Lockheed Martin Titan IV which exploded spectacularly just five launches after its maiden flight. Of course the enormous SLS will carry the 154 thousand pound IUS/Orion stack on its very first flight. So that you may avoid being a raging hypocrite, we look forward to your hand wringing & whining about the risk to the public from the first launch of the untested SLS.

      Speaking of phony hand wringing & whining, are you cowering in your mom’s basement right now? You know, there are over 5000 huge commercial aircraft in America’s sky on a typical day. If you live near Memphis Tennessee (just for instance), over 4000 huge FedEx freighters a month would fly over your head, each one holding (on average) 150,000 pounds of lord knows what. Outrageous!

      You’re a malignant hypocrite, while your “super huge rapid response drone system” comments are tin foil hat, bat sh*t crazy. But you know James, it’s never too late to grow up, you should give it a try, the real world is a lot more interesting than Gary Church crazy land.

  12. Guys you gotta see this


    An article comparing SpaceX to snake oil salesmen of the old west…And it was written by none other than

    “Beau Rothschild is the founder of Rothschild Policy and Politics. Beau served as the members outreach director for the Committee on House Administration and helped the 2014 freshmen Republican class to set up offices.”

    I just can’t make this stuff up

    • So according to you people with the last name Rothschild aren’t allowed to write article? Because EVERY article at The Federalist is anti-SpaceX trolling. Has been for years. That is their editorial slant on Musk and they have never had any other.

      • TomPerkins,

        I find it amusing to see the old guard panic as much as they are with Musk….

        The Rothschild family in its entirety is the richest in the world by far. Their net worth is in the hundreds of Trillions of dollars. They created central banking and the financial system that the entire planet operates by.

    • James,
      First the BFR was too toxic but now the BFR is…too big and will scare other nations because it is a war weapon? is that right?

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