A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket landed in orbit on Sunday from Cape Canaveral to replace an aging broadcast station that launched a new satellite 15 years ago to Sirius XM radio programming across North America.
Sirius XM’s SXM7 spacecraft, built by Maxer in Palo Alto, California, will be the first of two new generation of digital transmission satellites set to join the company’s ship in the coming months.
The 15,000-pound (approximately 7 metric tons) satellite was launched from pad 40 on a Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida at 12:30 pm EST (1730 GMT) on Sunday.
The 229-foot (70 m) Falcon 9 rocket, which leaps into the sky via an eastern lane off the coast of Florida, surpassed the speed of sound in less than a minute, followed by its first stage booster two and a half minutes into flight.
With the restart of the Merlin main engines, the first stage returned to the vertical landing, targeting the SpaceX drone “Just Read the Instructions.” It is located hundreds of miles east of Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean. This successful recovery marked the company’s seventh voyage into space aboard the SpaceX booster known as the B1051 in its rocket inventory.
A few minutes after the liftoff, two SpaceX boats were sent down to retrieve two parts of the payload fairing, such as the clamshell of the Falcon 9, which was struck by the rocket’s nose.
The Falcon 9’s single-use upper stage, meanwhile, is being orbited by the SXM7 satellite. The first burn of the upper stage placed the spacecraft in primary parking orbit, and a 26-minute resumption of the mission led the commercial satellite into an elliptical “sub-synchronous” orbit.
The rocket aimed at an orbit 12,000 miles (20,000 km) at the highest point on Earth. SpaceXEX has announced that the Falcon 9 has put its satellite passengers in the correct orbit.
A live video stream from the rocket showed the 27-foot (8 m) SXM7 spacecraft separating from the upper stage of the Falcon 9 in Africa.
Maxer, the maker of the spacecraft, has confirmed that the satellite is healthy following its launch on Sunday.
Maxer said the satellite soon expanded its solar-generating range to generate electricity. The ground teams at Maxer also made contact with the satellite as expected.
“Next, the SXM7 will begin applying its thrusters to begin its journey into its final geostationary orbit,” Maxer said.
These strategies will elevate the SXM7 to a working location of more than 22,000 miles (approximately 36,000 km) in geostationary orbit. In that orbit, the spacecraft orbits the Earth at the same rate as the planet, giving SXM7 a fixed view of the United States 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Sirius XM’s will continue to reliably deliver audio entertainment and information services to users in Satellite America, and expand Sirius XM’s coverage area in Canada and the Caribbean,” Sirius XM Syed said in a statement. “The SXX77 will provide the highest dens power density of any commercial satellite in orbit, sending over 8,000 watts of content to the US, Canada, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, increasing the signal strength and reach of the Sirius XM.”
Once in geostationary orbit, the SXM7 satellite, based on Maxer’s 1300-series space design, will open a reflector with a large S-band antenna built by L3 Harris to transmit radio signals to receivers in moving vehicles.
The SXM7 is expected to replace the XM3 radio broadcasting satellite at 85 degrees west longitude. Made by Boeing The XM3 satellite was launched in 2005 Sea Launch Zenith 3 SL on a rocket.
The SXM7 launch was scheduled for earlier this year, but an issue with the space shuttle at Maxer delayed the mission. SpaceX scrapped a launch attempt on Friday to perform additional ground system checks.
Sirius XM has five moons on Sunday. XM3 is still enabled.
With the launch of the SXM7 next year, the dual satellite SXM8 – also on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket – will expand Sirius XM’s services by at least 2036, the company said in a statement.
The launch of Sirius XM’s SXM7 satellite is a busy week for SpaceX.
Dec. 6, SpaceX Launches first upgraded cargo dragon spacecraft From Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The automated supply ship – Sporting Upgrades and a new variant based on the SpaceX X’s man – rated Dragon capsule – arrived at the International Space Station on Monday, December 7 for successful docking.
Meanwhile, SpaceX teams in South Texas conducted a launch High altitude test flight Wednesday at the company’s next-generation starship vehicle. The 164-foot (50 m) prototype rocket flew to altitude using methane-fueled Rapter engines, and then made a guided descent to the landing pad at the Space Space Exercise Station in Boca Chicas, Texas, near Mexico. Border.
The starship rocket applied a dramatic flip trick to set it up for landing, but the vehicle exploded in a fireball and made a crash landing. Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, praised the success of the test flight.
The reusable starship was finally able to carry more than 100 tons of cargo into space and carry people to the moon, Mars and other deep places.
With the launch of the SXM7, SpaceX has completed 25 successful Falcon 9 missions so far in 2020.
One more launch remains on the SpaceX schedule this year. A Falcon 9 rocket is set to explode just before 9 a.m. Thursday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. EST (1400 GMT) at 9am on Thursday with classified payload to the National Reconnaissance Office, the US government’s spy satellite agency.
Email the author.
Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: Stephen Clark1.