Zuma and the Moon – Super Secret Payload Poised on Pad 40 for Jan. 7 SpaceX Night Launch: UpClose Photo Gallery

Ken Kremer -- Space UpClose -- 7 Jan 2018

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL – Zuma and the Moon. The super secret Zuma payload are pictured together at pad 40 this morning with Earth’s Moon shining high in the sky overhead, poised for what will surely be a stunning launch tonight, Jan. 7, atop the SpaceX Falcon 9 carrier rocket – if all goes well.

The two stage 229-foot-tall (70-meter-tall) SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and covert Zuma surveillance satellite enclosed inside the payload fairing were rolled out and raised to launch position early this morning at pad 40 - where I photographed the pair UpClose during our media setup of remote cameras.

See our Space UpClose photo gallery of the SpaceX Falcon 9, Zuma and the Moon herein.

Liftoff of the clandestine spy satellite codenamed ‘Zuma’ is now targeted for Sunday evening Jan. 7 at 8 p.m. EST (0100 GMT) from SpaceX’s newly reactivated seaside Space Launch Complex-40 (SLC-40) on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

You can watch the launch live on a SpaceX dedicated webcast starting about 15 minutes prior to the 8 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT) liftoff time.

Watch the SpaceX broadcast live

The Zuma launch window at pad 40 extends for two full hours. The window opens at 8 p.m. EST (0100 GMT) and extends until closing at 10 p.m. EST (0300 GMT) on SLC-40 from the Florida Space Coast.

The latest weather forecast remains rather promising along the Florida Space Coast with an 80% chance of favorable conditions at launch time according to U.S. Air Force meteorologists with the 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base.

The primary concerns on Jan. 7 are only for the Cumulus Cloud Rule and the Thick Cloud Layer Rule.

SpaceX will attempt to recover the 16-story tall first stage back at the Cape at Landing Zone-1 and has issued a sonic boom advisory warning for local area residents to expectshockingly loud noises about eight minutes after the planned Sunday night liftoff.

Zuma remains cloaked in mystery, unclaimed even by the elusive NRO spy agency, andwhose goals are veiled in virtually complete darkness.

It may well we testing advanced new surveillance and imaging technologies possibly targeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and other US adversaries.

The launch with SpaceX was contracted by Northrop-Grumman.

“The U.S. Government assigned Northrop Grumman the responsibility of acquiring launch services for this mission,” Lon Rains, Northrop Grumman Director of Communications, told Space UpClose last November.

“We have procured the Falcon 9 launch service from SpaceX.”

“The Zuma payload is a restricted payload,” Rains told me.

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of SpaceX Zuma, Falcon Heavy, ULA and NASA and space mission reports direct from the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news.
SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and mysterious Zuma covert payload satellite stand erect at Space Launch Complex 40 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on Jan. 7, 2018. Zuma will be the 1st US launch of 2018 and 2nd launch from rebuilt pad 40. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com