SpaceX kicks off 2018 with launch of mysterious Zuma mission, Falcon landing

An artist’s representation of Falcon Heavy a 230-foot-tall rocket which is capable of carrying a payload of more than 54 tons

SpaceX on Sunday night picked up where it left off in 2017, its best year yet with 18 launches and no failures. This makes sense given that the relatively low orbit would SpaceX to bring the Falcon 9 first stage in for a landing back on land, rather than a drone ship at sea. The Zuma mission was supposed to take place in mid-November, but SpaceX put it on hold to investigate the results of testing for another customer.

Elon Musk's SpaceX is set to once again launch its mysterious Zuma mission January 5, after it was pushed back last November.

Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp successfully launched its first mission of the new year: a classified payload for the United States government into low-earth orbit. SpaceX's press kit offers no details about the mysterious satellite.

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The Falcon 9 rocket's reusable first stage will attempt a controlled landing at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The company has said it plans to launch roughly 30 missions in 2018 after completing a record 18 a year ago.

Zuma is a USA government payload delivered by Northrop Gruman, but its goal is classified.

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk's goal is to ideal the technique so that rockets can one day become just as reusable as airplanes, thereby lowering the cost of space travel. The two-hour launch window opens at 8pm ET.

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SpaceX's first mission of 2018 has more than its share of mystery.

SpaceX launched Zuma from its SLC-40 launch facility at Cape Canaveral in Florida, which was used instead of its other launch facility at Cape Canaveral because that was being employed for preparations for the launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket. But Sunday's launch is perhaps the company's most secretive yet.

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