Secretive SpaceX 'Zuma' still a 'go' to launch from KSC tonight

(Florida Today) -- SpaceX's planned launch of a secretive government payload was delayed a day to give teams more time to prepare for the mission from Kennedy Space Center, the company said Wednesday.

"Both Falcon 9 and the payload remain healthy," representatives said of the now Thursday night mission from pad 39A. "Teams will use the extra day to conduct some additional mission assurance work in advance of launch."

SpaceX is targeting a two-hour window that opens at 8 p.m. to launch the mysterious mission codenamed "Zuma," which Northrop Grumman has confirmed is a "U.S. government" payload. (More on the mission here.)

The delay has another upside: Weather conditions are 90 percent "go" for the Thursday attempt and greater than 90 percent "go" in the event of a delay to Friday, according to the Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron. The presence of cumulus clouds is the only concern for both days.

[SpaceX ready for mystery 'Zuma' launch from KSC and landing at Cape Canaveral]

[How to watch secretive SpaceX Falcon 9 launch from KSC and landing]

Shortly after liftoff, the first stage of the nine-engine rocket will attempt a propulsive landing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Landing Zone 1, generating a powerful sonic boom along the way.

Zuma marks the 17th mission of the year for SpaceX and, if successful, the 20th landing of a Falcon 9 first stage since 2015.

Contact Emre Kelly at aekelly@floridatoday.com or 321-242-3715. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook at @EmreKelly.

Launch Thursday

  • Rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
  • Mission: Zuma for Northrop Grumman / U.S. government
  • Launch Time: 8 p.m.
  • Launch Window: 10 p.m.
  • Launch Pad: 39A at Kennedy Space Center
  • Weather: 80 percent “go”

Join FloridaToday.com/Space at 6:30 p.m. Thursday for countdown chat and updates, including streaming of SpaceX's launch webcast.

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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