SpaceX has come a long way since one of its rockets exploded on the launch bad in September 2016 (though the company has assembled a humorous bloopers reel to show that it has a sense of humor about its humble beginnings).
And on Thursday, it will launch a rocket from Cape Canaveral Florida that will carry a satellite into space for the US government. Though the project is top secret, and it’s unclear which government agency commissioned it, or if the satellite is for military or reconnaissance purposes.
Indeed, the only thing the public knows about this project is its codename: Project Zuma. And after an initial delay, the launch is finally here, according to Sky News.
SpaceX is preparing to send into space a satellite for the US government that is so secret the public cannot know even which branch of the administration commissioned the launch.
A weather report ahead of the launch released on Tuesday described the conditions as excellent.
Unlike the private aerospace company's previous classified launches for the military's National Reconnaissance Office and the super-secret space-plane it took into orbit for the Air Force, there is almost no information available about the "Zuma" payload.
Zuma is known to be a low Earth orbit satellite (orbiting within 2,000km) which is an orbit necessary both for spy and military communication satellites.
The secrecy surrounding the launch and the involvement of defense contractor Northrup Grumman in building and operating the spacecraft has led many to speculate that it is defense-related. The National Reconnaissance Office has denied that Zuma belongs to them. The launch window opens at 8pm local time on Thursday at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
According to Northrup Grumma communications director Lon Raid: "This event represents a cost-effective approach to space access for government missions.”
"As a company, Northrop Grumman realises that this is a monumental responsibility and has taken great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenarios for Zuma."
The launch had been pushed back despite a US Government desire to launch Zuma before November of last year.