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SpaceX customer Iridium Co blames Northrop Grumman for missing satellite

The satellite was presumed to have crashed into the ocean in the secretive mission code-named Zuma

Dana Hull | Bloomberg 

Photo: Reuters

A major customer spoke up for Elon Musk’s rocket company, pinning the blame for a secret military satellite’s disappearance on defense company Corp.

Matt Desch, chief executive officer of operator Inc., said that as the launch contractor, deserves the blame for the loss last weekend of the satellite, which is presumed to have crashed into the ocean in the secretive mission code-named Zuma.

“This is a typical industry smear job on the ‘upstart’ trying to disrupt the launch industry,” Desch said on Twitter Thursday in response to a news article. “didn’t have a failure, did. Notice that no one in the media is interested in that story. will pay the price as the one some will try to bring low.”

didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Desch later told Bloomberg in a message that he didn’t know for sure what led to the disappearance but was speculating that a dispenser failed to release the satellite, which he said would have been Northrop Grumman’s responsibility.

Iridium is one of SpaceX’s largest commercial customers, with four launches in the past 12 months from on California’s central coast and four upcoming launches listed on SpaceX’s manifest. Iridium has come to SpaceX’s defense before, saying a 2016 launchpad explosion hadn’t shaken its confidence in the startup.

First Published: Fri, January 12 2018. 10:18 IST