SpaceX successfully launches top-secret Zuma spacecraft

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Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp successfully launched its first mission of the new year: a classified payload for the U.S. government into low-earth orbit. The two-hour launch window begins at 8 p.m.

SpaceX is scheduled to launch an undisclosed national security payload on Sunday night.

SpaceX yesterday blasted off a secretive United States government payload known as Zuma, a mission whose nature - and the agency behind it - remains a mystery.

The webcast of the launch did not follow the second stage carrying the payload after it separated from the first stage.

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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.

"Three, two, one, ignition and liftoff", said a SpaceX commentator as the Falcon 9 rocket launched under cover of darkness from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 8pm (0100 GMT Monday).

The mission was delayed from 2017, which was a record-breaking year for SpaceX, as the company launched 18 times. But Sunday's launch is perhaps the company's most secretive yet.

Defence contractor Northrop Grumman Corp was assigned to choose which company would launch the restricted payload, and it selected SpaceX's Falcon 9, calling it a cost effective option, said Lon Rains, a Northrop Grumman spokesman, before the launch.

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