SpaceX to launch a secret but significant payload Thursday ars_ab.settitle(1205153)

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SpaceX is hired by Northrop Grumman, which is hired by the United States government to choose a suitable launcher to send the cargo.

SpaceX and the Pentagon did not respond to requests for comment about the nature of the mission.

The privately-owned space transportation firm SpaceX will launch an orbital payload Thursday, but no one is saying who owns the satellite or what it will do. The payload was developed by Northrup Grumman, and has the mysterious name "Zuma", which sounds similar to a carbonated, alcoholic beverage briefly popular in the 1990s, Zima.

Elon Musk's SpaceX is set to launch yet another satellite, but details surrounding the launch remain a mystery. "Teams will use the extra day to conduct some additional mission assurance work in advance of launch". There are few clues in the launch's mission patch.

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Zuma has a two-hour launch window for its flight from Kennedy Space Center.

Florida Today notes that the plan-to have the Falcon 9 booster return and land-reaffirms that Zuma is headed to a low earth orbit and could mean it doesn't weigh as much as past SpaceX missions. Lift-off has initially been scheduled for Wednesday, but has been postponed to Thursday, due to weather conditions.

Just in case the launch doesn't go as planned, SpaceX has a backup time frame, beginning at 8:00 p.m. EST on Friday.

If all goes according to plan, Zuma will now lift off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Friday from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, during a window that opens at 8 p.m. EST (0100 GMT on November 18).

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