Enlarge / The Zuma satellite and Falcon 9 rocket on the launch pad. (credit: SpaceX)

On Sunday night SpaceX launched the Zuma satellite into space. What we know for sure is that the first stage of the rocket behaved nominally enough such that it was able to safely return to Earth and make a land-based landing along the Florida coast.

SpaceX, however, never officially confirmed mission success. On Monday, Ars began to hear discussion from sources that the mysterious Zuma spacecraft—the purpose of which was never specified, nor which US military or spy agency had backed it—may not have survived. According to one source, the payload fell back to Earth along with the spent upper stage of the Falcon 9 rocket.

Later on Monday afternoon another space reporter, Peter B. de Selding, reported on Twitter that he too had been hearing about problems with the satellite. "Zuma satellite from @northropgrumman may be dead in orbit after separation from @SpaceX Falcon 9, sources say," de Selding tweeted. "Info blackout renders any conclusion - launcher issue? Satellite-only issue? — impossible to draw."

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments