U.S. Air Force command that certified Elon Musk’s SpaceX for military missions says it remains confident in the company’s capabilities despite the disappearance this month of a classified satellite it launched.
“Based on the data available, our team did not identify any information that would change SpaceX’s Falcon 9 certification status” after “a preliminary review of telemetry that was available to us from” the Jan. 7 launch, Lieutenant General John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, said in a statement to Bloomberg News.
The US Air Force bolstered SpaceX’s position that its Falcon 9 rocket apparently “did everything correctly” in the mission code-named Zuma.
That may increase scrutiny of Northrop Grumman Corp., which oversaw the mission and built the satellite as well as the coupling to release it from the second-stage rocket.
SpaceX remains eligible to compete for 11 launches through fiscal year 2019, including a looming winner-take-all contest for three Global Positioning System III missions now in source selection. SpaceX has already received two of three contracts in which it competed against United Launch Alliance.
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