Some of the speculation surrounding Zuma was that its mission was to maneuver with other satellites, potentially near the International Space Station, like another classified satellite launched in June 2017. It’s possible that something went wrong with the technology the satellite was designed to demonstrate after launch, contributing to a failure.

We may not know the truth for decades, until whatever program Zuma is part of is declassified, but if the recriminations over the mission are pulled into high-stakes debates over defense contracts, congressional aides may reveal further details ahead of time.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.