SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 rocket early Sunday from Cape Canaveral, adding the SiriusXM-8 radio satellite into orbit to broadcast entertainment programs to receivers in cars, ships, homes and offices.
The Maxar satellite previously built in the SXM-7 series failed a few weeks after launching on another Falcon 9 in December last year. But two older broadcasters are still fully operational, and SiriusXM plans to build replacements that have failed.
The latest mission was underway at 12:26 a.m. EDT when the Falcon 9 on pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station fired its first stage of nine engines, thrusting a rocket 229 feet into the cloudy night sky. covered with a roar Fiery exhaust jets It’s the company’s 18th Falcon 9 flight so far this year. and totaling for the 121st time
Climbing east over the Atlantic with 1.7 million pounds of thrust, the rocket’s first stage, which made its third flight, performed a familiar performance. But still dramatic, visible for miles on Florida’s Space Coast.
Two and a half minutes after the start The first stage engine is turned off. the stage fell off And the flight continues with the power of a single vacuum rated Merlin engine that powers the booster’s second stage accelerator.
The first step flips around. Fire three engines to slow the jump back into the atmosphere below. and then use a single engine to brake to land on SpaceX drones stationed for hundreds of miles.
The on-target touchdown was SpaceX’s 65th successful booster recovery at sea and 87th overall.
The second stage fired the engine twice to reach the planned elliptical orbit. By launching the SXM-8 satellite to fly on its own 32 minutes after launch. The satellite will use its own propulsion system in the coming weeks to reach a defined circular orbit 22,300 miles above the equator.
The 15,400-pound SXM-8 spacecraft has a large mesh antenna designed to broadcast programming to mobile radios throughout North America. The satellite has a design life of 15 years.
SiriusXM originally planned to replace the two older satellites XM-3 and XM-4, nicknamed Rhythm and Blues, respectively, with the SXM-7 launched last December and the same SXM-8 launched in 2016. Sunday
With the failure of the SXM-7 earlier this year It is not yet known which older satellite SXM-8 will be replaced when fully operational.
However, the situation went smoothly. Company officials said the loss of SXM-7, a guaranteed $225 million, would have no impact on program deliveries. And both older satellites are still in good health. Another older satellite, the XM-5, is available as spare orbit if needed.