US Air Force finds no evidence SpaceX caused Zuma launch failure

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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