SpaceX successfully launches top-secret Zuma spacecraft

SpaceX shows the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Fla. for the

X What little is known about the Zuma satellite is that Northrop made it for a government customer and was launched into low Earth orbit, where the International Space Station, reconnaissance, weather and communications satellites reside.

The unmanned Falcon rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Sunday night, carrying the satellite toward an undisclosed orbit. The first launch this year carried a special payload - Zuma, a secretive spacecraft commissioned by the US government for an undisclosed mission. But the company continued to broadcast the return of the first-stage booster to Cape Canaveral, where it landed upright as part of a recycling effort. The name Zuma refers to a Southern California beach.

Last year, SpaceX carried out 18 successful launches, the highest in any calendar year. It was similar to - but still slightly different than - the exhaust plume that startled many California residents after a west coast launch late previous year.

Another highly anticipated SpaceX launch will feature the world's most powerful operational rocket named Falcon Heavy.

While the press kit reveals nothing about the spacecraft, a report says that amateur satellite trackers believe it to be an experimental vessel built with new technologies.