She said work to ready SpaceX's next launches remained on schedule, with the first hold-down firing of the company's new Falcon Heavy rocket planned this week at Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A. The payload was meant to be launched into low-Earth orbit. If additional reviews uncover any problems, she said, "we will report it immediately". The rocket's second stage propels the satellite into orbit.
Northrop Grumman declined to comment, instead releasing a tight-lipped statement. Its classified mission was intentionally inscrutable - whether to detect missile launches, spy on adversaries, or to track ship at sea with a space radar. The company has recently ramped up its launch pace, even launching two missions from opposite coasts within about 48 hours.
In 2015, SpaceX was certified by the U.S. Air Force to launch national security satellites.
Matt Desch, chief executive officer of satellite operator Iridium Communications Inc., said that as the launch contractor, Northrop Grumman deserves the blame for the loss last weekend of the satellite, which is presumed to have crashed into the ocean in the secretive mission code-named Zuma. Later payload Zuma (USA 280) a command of the aerospace defense of North America (the addition is performed after at least one revolution of the spacecraft around the Earth, that does not preclude further Assembly of the device from orbit).
On its website, SpaceX says it has more than 70 upcoming missions on its launch manifest, which could take several years.
A rocket operated by the aerospace company SpaceX exploded on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral where it was being test-fired ahead of a launch.More news: UK construction sector downbeat despite house build rise
Congressional inquiries into the satellite failure may revive debate about SpaceX's rivalry for military contracts with United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp. The location and appearance of the sighting matched where the Falcon 9 and Zuma should have been orbiting, based on trackers' pre-flight predictions, and was similar to fuel dumps observed after other launches. U.S. Rep. Mike D. Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the strategic forces subcommittee, said in a statement that while he couldn't comment on classified matters, "space is a risky business".
Reporters Sunday night expected confirmation from Northrop Grumman after officials confirmed the Zuma payload's successful launch, but the announcement never came. It was so shrouded in secrecy that the sponsoring government agency was not even identified, as is usually the case.
A launch date for the maiden Falcon Heavy test flight has not been officially scheduled, but it could occur by the end of January.
If the separation system was to blame for Zuma's rumored demise, the malfunction could have been under the responsibility of Northrop Grumman, not SpaceX. As individual members of Congress began requesting classified briefings about what went, if anything, wrong, Pentagon officials were also mum.
The unmanned Falcon rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday night, carrying the satellite toward an undisclosed orbit.