SpaceX is launching a secret mission called 'Zuma'

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Northrop Grumman on #SpaceX Zuma launch: "This represents a cost effective approach to space access for government missions".

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

SpaceX and the Pentagon did not respond to requests for comment about the nature of the mission. The mission was not even made public until a launch license was released a month ago, and the company didn't acknowledge the launch until this last week. "Now targeting November 16 for launch - rocket and payload remain healthy‚ and the teams will use the extra day to conduct additional mission assurance work".

Furthermore the two stage 229-foot-tall (70-meter-tall) Falcon 9 rocket was raised to vertical launch position later today Wednesday afternoon November 15 - so everything seems to be in place for a Thursday evening launch attempt. It extends for two full hours until 10 a.m. EST.

Zuma satellite mission patch. Credit SpaceX  Northrop Grumman
Zuma satellite mission patch. Credit SpaceX Northrop Grumman

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.

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.

Watch for Ken's continuing onsite coverage of SpaceX Zuma, KoreaSat-5A & SES-11, ULA NROL-52 and NASA and space mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

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