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San Francisco — It was one of the most important things Elon Musk has ever launched into space: a government satellite so shrouded in secrecy that virtually everything about it is classified.
Its code name: Zuma.
Only now, what was supposed to be a triumph for Musk and his Space Exploration Technologies Corp has turned into a potential setback after the satellite went missing.
The episode is also shaping up as a test for the billionaire’s ambitions in space — especially SpaceX’s hard-won ability to compete for military missions.
"They’re concerned any failure might hinder their ability to get future national security launch contracts," said Brian Weeden, the director of program planning for the Secure World Foundation, a space-policy think-tank. "National security payloads are a very important potential market for SpaceX."
Details are scant and it is far from clear who, if anyone, is at fault.
But this much is certain: Zuma, perched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, strea...
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