It’s not often that one can point to a last-minute (from the public side) addition of a mission to a launch manifest – let alone one that manages to stay secret until 30 days before the opening of its launch campaign.
With such secrecy, the customer candidate for Zuma would normally be the U.S. government/military (i.e.: the National Reconnaissance Office or the Air Force); however, there is industry speculation claiming this is a “black commercial” mission.
What is known is that Zuma will use Falcon 9 core B1043 – a brand new core that was originally (as understood by NASASpaceflight.com) intended for the CRS-13/Dragon mission. Northrop Grumman is the payload provider for Zuma through a commercial launch contract with SpaceX for a LEO satellite with a mission type labeled as “government” and a needed launch date range of 1-30 November 2017.
Gebhardt, C. (2017). SpaceX adds mystery “Zuma” mission, Iridium-4 aims for Vandenberg landing | NASASpaceFlight.com. [online] Nasaspaceflight.com. Available at: https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2017/10/spacex-zuma-iridium-4-aims-vandenberg-landing/ [Accessed 18 Oct. 2017].
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