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SpaceX Zuma launch: How and when to watch the mysterious payload blast off

SpaceX Zuma launch: How and when to watch the mysterious payload blast off
[Photo: Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images]

SpaceX is launching a top-secret payload into space today, and while we can’t know what’s in it, we do get to watch it go up.

Aside from the most basic facts (“Falcon 9 rocket will deliver the Zuma spacecraft to low-Earth orbit) about the mission, Space X has kept mum about the launch, which is known only as “Zuma.” AArs Technica reports, whatever it is, it was developed by military aerospace giant Northrop Grumman. Perhaps you recognize them from hits like the B-21 stealth bomber and the James Webb Space Telescope?

This isn’t the first military mission that SpaceX has flown. It launched a payload in May for the not-at-all-subtly named National Reconnaissance Office, and another in September for the Air Force. Zuma, though, is its most doubly top-secret payload yet. As Ars points out, the company didn’t even acknowledge the launch until last week. Until space tourism takes off, military missions are increasingly the bread-and-butter of space companies. Earlier this month, Virgin launched VOX Space to handle its government contracts.

Space X has a two-hour launch window from Kennedy Space Center. The window opens at 8 p.m. ET tonight and it will all be streamed on a webcast, posted via YouTube below. So crack open a Zima while you try and guess what the heck Zuma is.

ML