SpaceX will launch a payload into orbit sometime in November for an unknown "government" customer. All that is known so far about this mission is that it has been codenamed "Zuma", the payload will be provided by aerospace defence tech company Northrop Grumman and that it will be launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
While it is usually the norm for the company to announce its launches, details about this one are yet to be disclosed. A report from Popular Mechanics states that information about Zuma was taken from public FCC records. It is reported that no agency, government or private institution has come out stating what the launch is for, which adds to the intrigue surrounding the mission.
It is common for government agencies to state what the payload is, even if they are spy satellites from the infamously secretive National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), notes the report.
Only last week, there was an Atlas V launch with a spy satellite on board. Another spy satellite was launched in September by Nasa using an Atlas V rocket. While the actual details and specifications are still kept hidden, Popular Mechanics notes that at least there was an announcement.
News of the Falcon 9 launch could only be sourced because the FCC records are public and SpaceX makes use telemetry transmitters and receivers to track the rocket's path. To operate these instruments, they need a clearance from the FCC, which means they have to fill in a publically-accessible request.
The report also mentions that the information about the source of the payload is from NASASpaceflight.com.
The mission type is simply listed as "government", notes the report.
Additionally, there have also been two applications filed for this mission – one for the mission launch from launchpad 39A at Kennedy Space Center and the other for the landing planned at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The report also further points out that one of the satellites launched under similar mysterious circumstances back in 2009 and 2014 was used for gathering intelligence for military operations, according to Edward Snowden's leaks.
The launch of Zuma could also be SpaceX's final one this year.