SpaceX plans to launch a secret payload known as Zuma on Thursday evening (Nov. 16), from NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Florida's Space Coast.
And when I say secret, I mean secret; everybody involved with the mission is pretty tight-lipped about it. Here's a brief rundown of what we know. (Spoiler alert: It isn't much.)
Zuma is a U.S. government payload
Aerospace and defense company Northrop Grumman has confirmed that it procured Zuma's launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the U.S. government. But it's unclear which agency is in charge of the Zuma project. [The Rockets and Spaceships of SpaceX (Photos)]
Such secrecy is atypical, even if Zuma happens to be a sensitive national-security satellite. (And we don't know that it is; Northrop Grumman has simply described Zuma as a "restricted payload.")
For example, SpaceX has two national-security launches under its belt, and in both cases basic details about the mission were announced. One flight, in May 2017, lofted a satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office, which builds and operates the nation's fleet of spy satellites. The other, which launched in September, launched the robotic X-37B space plane for the U.S. Air Force.
[UPDATE: SpaceX Launch of Mysterious Zuma Spacecraft Delayed Until Friday]