SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully launches secret Zuma mission into orbit

SpaceX has launched a Falcon 9 rocket and stuck the landing again to reuse the first stage of the rocket. This mission had a bit of cloak and dagger associated with a secret Zuma mission atop the rocket. The secret payload was launched for the US government last night.

Falcon 9 lifted off at 8pm EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The two stages of the booster separated 2 minutes and 19 seconds into the flight. That second stage pushed the Zuma payload into low-earth orbit and the first stage returned to Earth.

That first stage landed successfully at Landing Zone 1 at the SpaceX facility. The successful first stage landing was complete in fewer than 8 minutes after takeoff. SpaceX has become very skilled at landing its first stage rocket after some early losses.

So far there have been 21 successful first-stage touchdowns with nine of them happening at Landing Zone 1 and 12 on autonomous drone ships in the ocean. The ultimate goal is to reuse those rockets to cut the cost of putting things into orbit.

Zuma is a satellite of some sort that was developed by Northrop Grumman. There is no indication of what agency will operate it. We don't even know exactly where Suma is in orbit.