Northrop Grumman at fault for Zuma spy satellite failure

Back in January, SpaceX successfully pushed the Northrop Grumman Zuma spy satellite into orbit. Shortly after Zuma entered orbit it was announced that it was thought that the satellite was a complete loss. SpaceX began immediately saying that it was not at fault for the failure of the satellite.

A new report has now surfaced that claims Northrop Grumman was at fault for the loss of the satellite. Two independent investigations point to the payload adapter Northrop used as being the cause of the satellite loss. The payload adapter is a key component in deploying a satellite and connects the satellite to the upper stage of the rocket.

Zuma was a massive expensive with some reports claiming that the cost to develop was around $3.5 billion. As for what agency was to operate Zuma and what exactly its mission was to be, we still have no idea. The satellite was classified, and we should expect no comment from anyone on what the purpose was meant to be.

"Based on the data available, our team did not identify any information that would change SpaceX's Falcon 9 certification status," Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, said in a statement.

The investigation tentatively concluded that onboard sensors didn't immediately communicate to ground systems that the satellite had failed to separate from the rocket. The upper stage of the rocket was meant to fall back into the atmosphere and burn up. By the time it was realized that Zuma didn't separate as it was meant to, the satellite was in too low an orbit to save. Northrop reportedly modified the payload adapter for Zuma because of the fragile nature of the satellite.