back to article SpaceX delivers classified 'Zuma' payload into orbit

SpaceX's first mission of 2018, carrying the secret US government payload "Zuma", successfully launched and landed in the early hours of this morning. The Falcon 9 rocket slipped the surly bonds of Earth at 1am GMT, lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The reusable stage 1 of the rocket returned to the …

  1. Andrew Newstead

    Mars Orbit?

    Come on Reg, you should know better! The Tesla roadster is not being sent into orbit around Mars, it is being launched into a solar orbit that goes out as far as Mars' orbit around the Sun.

    Everyone is getting this wrong!

    1. Chemist

      Re: Mars Orbit?

      "The Tesla roadster is not being sent into orbit around Mars"

      No, no. It's actually a black Tesla, with a black interior being driven into the sun.

      (Cheers Douglas)

    2. DNTP

      Re: Mars Orbit?

      If it's approximately at Mars' orbital distance, if you wait long enough it has a very good chance of eventually having a meaningful gravitational encounter with Mars. That's more likely to end up with the car getting flung into the Sun, ejected into deep space, or experiencing lithobraking than entering a stable Martian orbit. However... that might be how Mars gained Phobos and Deimos.

      Edit: Assuming SpaceX plans to circularize the orbit after reaching apoapsis, which seems unlikely. In that case the car is basically going to spend most of its life transiting between Mars distance and Earth distance, effectively out of reach of either body for the vast majority of its life.

      1. elDog

        Re: Mars Orbit?

        And with a good load of solar panels, that tesla should be very well-juiced as it is embraced by the yearning arms of sol's gravity. Ahhhh - rapture!

      2. ArrZarr Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Mars Orbit?

        It does read like a Star Trek Voyager script, an early electric car appearing in the delta quadrant after being thrown into a wormhole following said gravitational encounter with Mars. Cue wacky hijinks with Chakotay driving around the corridors chasing Janeway after finally snapping, Tuvok chasing the car, Neelix trying to cheer Chakotay up; in and out of doors scooby doo style before shooting the car with a depleted positron beam to drain the batteries.

        1. fishman

          Re: Mars Orbit?

          You mean like the Voyager episode "The_37's" where they find a 1936 Ford pickup truck floating in space?

      3. Andrew Newstead

        Re: Mars Orbit?

        As I understand it there will be no circularisation burn, just lobbing the Car into a Holman transfer.

    3. Craig 2

      Re: Mars Orbit?

      Years from now if that Tesla hits a Mars mission craft, it will be blamed on a Tesla autopilot failure!

    4. Ian Michael Gumby

      Re: Mars Orbit?

      Sorry El Reg, its a major Fail.

      Everyone knows that it should be a Classic Corvette Convertible.

      For those too young, go watch the opening scene to Heavy Metal.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        Re: Mars Orbit?

        Just a follow up...

        Rumor has it that the satellite failed to deploy and returned to earth.

        So if it was a corvette you'd see the real thing from Heavy Metal.

        Just saying... The explosion is from the solid debris hitting the earth at a high velocity going boom.

      2. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Mars Orbit?

        Everyone knows that it should be a Classic Corvette Convertible.

        Shouldn't it be playing Radar Rider by Riggs rather than Bowie.

  2. Crisp

    Zumba In Space!

    I like the idea of astronauts doing aerobic dance in zero gravity.

  3. caffeine addict

    Wasn't Zuma a giant frog that spits multicoloured balls?

    Anyway, if you want a giggle, go search twitter or facebook for Zuma. Lots of nuts trying to guess what it is. My favourites so far are the (predictable) weather / mind control claims, and a load of people declaring that it's an EM weapon to be launched at the Norks. I'm not sure that would do all that much damage...

    There was one guy who suggested SpaceX would land their rocket outside Kim's palace, have it play the American national anthem then take off again. Which amused me.

    1. m0rt

      'Wasn't Zuma a giant frog that spits multicoloured balls'


      First thing I thought of, too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > "My favourites so far are the (predictable) weather / mind control claims, and a load of people declaring that it's an EM weapon to be launched at the Norks."

      They do seem over-enthusiastic. Probably it's just a couple more rounds for the "Crowbars from God" gun.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      For the record...

      It was supposed to be Zima, but someone freaked and was worried about getting sued for misuse of a trademark. (Owned by Miller Coors.)

    4. nijam

      > Wasn't Zuma a giant frog that spits multicoloured balls?

      Not according to South African news reports.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    why are they launching the president of South Africa into space?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      why are they launching the president of South Africa into space?

      Because Trump and Kim were busy, so they had to go for the next craziest one.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's a trial... if it works, Trump gets to be the first man to go to Mars (one way...)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Like Neil Armstrong, the person to first walk on Mars will be remembered for a long time.

        Last thing we want is that specific person remembered.

  5. Tempest8008

    Shows my age...

    Shows that I have kids of a certain age:

    To me, Zuma is a chocolate Lab' in the Paw Patrol.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shows my age...

      It was also a canned alcoholic beverage.

      1. My other car is an IAV Stryker Bronze badge

        Re: Shows my age...

        That's Zima, not Zuma.

        Edit: And it came in bottles, too, the gimmick being that is was clear.

  6. Simon Harris Silver badge

    Sunday Sport

    According to SpaceX the Falcon Heavy can send 16,800kg to Mars, so I assume to the moon too.

    The empty weight of a Lancaster Bomber is about 16,000kg so it should be possible for the Falcon Heavy to put a World War Two bomber on the moon.

    (for American readers the B17 Flying Fortress is a similar size)

    Musk could make this the second test flight (not with an original Lancaster of course!) .

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Sunday Sport

      That's all very well, but how are SpaceX going to find Elvis?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sunday Sport

      Yes but what are the volumes in Bulgarian airbags? If you're going to reference the Sunday Sport you should at least keep to the standard metrics.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They've launched a Zune into space? I know they were shit but that's a bit extreme.

    Did I read that wrong.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge


      Where do you think StarLords came from?

      1. m0rt

        Re: GOTG

        Somewhere that really hates apostrophes?

    2. AndersBreiner

      No they've launched Zuma into space. Saff 'Effrica's wanker president.

  8. CentralCoasty

    .Tesla... astro-archaeology......

    I can just imagine it... "x" years from now an alien astro-archaeologist will come visiting our system to investigate the remains of this quaint civilisation that failed to make a permanent move into space and find this strange object orbiting near Mars.... what will they make of it?

  9. James Ashton

    Rumours of ZUMA Failure

    There are now multiple conflicting rumours of ZUMA failure, all vague and unverified due to ZUMA's secret nature. Was it SpaceX's fault? Are the rumours misdirection aimed at obscuring ZUMA's real nature and continued existence?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Long term planning

    Obviously planning long term. When Elon gets to Mars, he wil lbe able to get the payload from transfer orbit into Mars orbit, then land the car. Can then try to set the first Mars land speed record.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Long term planning

      Not the first. Spirit and/or Opportunity held that, then Curiousity. Admittedly they're not terribly impressive speeds - but they were still the fastest ever when they did them.

  11. FrozenShamrock

    Ooops! A bit premature with the champage bottle.

    It appears the satellite went boom instead on into orbit.

    I like where SpaceX channels Intel by saying the rocket performed as expected. I would have thought the idea was to have the satellite survive.

    This is not the first time SpaceX has performed as expected while blowing up someone else's very expensive hardware. The best one was when a rocket blew up on the launch pad taking a $300M satellite with it. They have done a good job of driving down the cost of launches; but, you have to factor in the very real possibility your payload will not survive. Sometimes the old adage of you get what you pay for rings true.

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