Maybe saying that the payload was lost, it's part of their plan to keep whatever was launched as secret and confidential as possible.
So a secretive thing launched in space now suddenly disappears? I don't know but to me seems like a pretty normal way of saying "stop looking this way or asking questions."
> Sources say the secretive Zuma satellite was lost by SpaceX
> As of right now reviews of the data indicate Falcon 9 performed nominally
Headline is in complete contradiction with the content of the article.
No info, and no reliable (identified) sources cited. Photos of the launch show the second stage burned as normal, so that seems to indicate that the launcher wasn't a major issue. And the second stage de-orbit burn was also photographed, and looked like all the others I've seen. Separation of Zuma from the second stage could have been a problem, of course, or there could have been an issue with Zuma itself.
Satellites tend to be reflective due to their use of solar panels, and amateur astronomers track just about everything people launch. Heavens-above's track data doesn't get filled in it either failed or is very low-observability and using an RTG or similar instead of solar power. It's also possible that the payload is in orbit, but couldn't get to the correct orbit, in which case track data will get filled in but the satellite still will have failed...
Rrrright. That's what they want you to think.
If SpaceX is responsible for any problems, it will look bad for their reliability. From another article:
> The Zuma mission was originally supposed to launch in mid-November, but SpaceX stood down for a while to study data from payload-fairing test performed for another customer. (The payload fairing is the protective nose cone that encases a spacecraft during launch.)
It was awfully cold in Florida for the week or so before launch...rockets don't seem to like cold.
This has got to be really tough for SpaceX, especially given how accustomed the become to being as open and forthright with their past failures. Such openness seems to be key in how such a young rocketry company managed to secure so much business (well, that and cost and success rate). I suppose this is just the risk you take when accepting to launch secretive missions...
...still sucks, though.
How exactly does likely loss and destruction of payload translate into "performed nominally"? Is that like "stable genius"?
Title is incorrect and sensational. Sources say the satellite may have failed or may have issues but it's all classified, and we do not know whether the problem (if any) was in the launcher or the satellite itself.
It's also not impossible that the USG wants certain parties to think the satellite failed.