SpaceX performed the first launch of the Falcon-9 launch vehicle this year as part of Zuma’s secret mission. It is performed for the US military. The rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 4 am Moscow time. The fact of fulfilling the mission is not classified - everyone knows about him, and SpaceX did not try and does not try to hide it. It is not known what exactly Falcon 9 put into orbit.It is known
that the device was launched into low orbit, with the first stage of the launch vehicle successfully returning to the SpaceX site at Cape Canaveral.
At the moment, the company has “in the portfolio” already 21 successful return steps. 9 of them returned to Landing Zone 1, and another 12 - lowered onto a floating platform located in the ocean. Rather, there are two platforms, these are “Just Read the Instructions” and “Of Course I Still Love You”.
Apparently, the company was able to debug the return process, which now passes without a hitch. Five steps were re-launched into space, with both the launch and the third landing of them in normal mode. Similarly, Dragon capsules were tested, two of which were re-sent into space, to the ISS.
As for Zuma, it is known that an aerospace company (which deals mainly with defense projects) is related to this satellite. Who controls the satellite and in general what kind of satellite it is is unclear. Zuma's orbit, its parameters, are also unknown.
Actually, for SpaceX this is not the first military mission. Previously, the company sent a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office in May 2017 and another one for the Air Force in September 2017. Zuma was originally supposed to launch in mid-November, but then due to a number of technical reasons, the launch date was postponed to January 2018 .
But the most anticipated mission from SpaceX is the launch of the super-heavy Falcon Heavy rocket. It is being transferred for the fifth year - initially the rocket was supposed to be sent into space in 2013. At the end of last year, it became known that Ilon Musk plans to send
his own electric Tesla Roadster to Mars. It will serve as a payload. In the car will sound the song of David Bowie "Space Oddity".
According to Mask, a capsule with a car can fly in the solar system for a billion years, provided, of course, that the launch will be successful. “I really like to imagine an electric car that flies in unlimited outer space. Perhaps this car will be discovered by some extraterrestrial race millions of years later, ”the businessman said. Electric will be enclosed in a special shell that will be the last step in the assembly of the rocket.
In order to assemble it, it was necessary to add head fairings and special fastenings in the fore and aft parts to the side steps. This was required to connect them to the central unit. During the first launch, if everything goes as planned, the spent side steps should separate from the central part and land on SpaceX-based landing sites. Nine engines of the central block will work a little longer, and he splashes down on a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean. But the second stage of the rocket will at this time move away from the Earth, carrying an electric vehicle.
The head of the company SpaceX said
that the creation of a heavy rocket proved to be a more difficult task than originally expected. At the end of last year, Musk showed the first pictures of Falcon Heavy. The rocket is shown already assembled near the 39th launch pad of the Kennedy Space Center, from where it will be launched in January of this year.
The picture clearly shows
all 27 Merlin 1D engines, which are mounted on three modified steps from the reusable Falcon 9 rocket. According to company representatives, at the time of launch, the engines will develop a thrust of 2,400 tons.
Another mission from SpaceX, which many expect, is launching space tourists to the Moon, who are planning to fly around a natural satellite of the Earth in 2018. There will be only two tourists. Their identities are unknown, but the company reported that its customers have already made a significant advance payment to fulfill their dreams. Unfortunately, the landing on the moon is not provided by the flight program. Well, the launch will be made using the same Falcon Heavy. Tourists will fly on the ship Dragon 2.