A huge new satellite broadcasting SiriusXM radio programs across North America boarded a SpaceX Falcon 9 missile into orbit Sunday from Cape Canaveral en route to replace an old broadcast station that launched more than 15 years ago.
SiriusXM’s SXM 7 spacecraft, built by Maxar in Palo Alto, California, is the first of a new generation of digital broadcast satellite that will join the company’s fleet in the coming months.
The 15,000-pound (nearly 7 metric tons) satellite blasted off at 12:30 PM EST (1730 GMT) Sunday over a Falcon 9 rocket from Platform 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
The 229 feet (70 meters) Falcon 9 rocket climbed into the sky on an eastern trajectory from Florida’s Space Coast, exceeding the speed of sound in about one minute, then leaving the first stage of its booster more than two minutes. Half a minute after the trip.
Using the restart of Merlin’s main engines, the first stage led itself to a vertical landing on the target aboard SpaceX’s “Just Read the Instructions” drone ship that was placed hundreds of miles east of Cape Canaveral in the Atlantic Ocean. This successful recall marks the seventh flight into space and back for the SpaceX Booster, known as the B1051 in the company’s rocket inventory.
Two SpaceX boats were also sent down to retrieve the two Falcon 9 shell-like payload halves, which were discarded from the nose of the rocket a few minutes after takeoff.
Meanwhile, the upper stage of the single-use Falcon 9 is being operated in orbit with the SXM 7 satellite. The first burn of the upper stage put the spacecraft into a primary parking orbit, and after restarting about 26 minutes after the mission pushed the commercial satellite into a transfer orbit Oval “semi-synchronous”.
The missile was targeting an orbit more than 12,000 miles (20,000 km) above Earth at its highest point. SpaceX said the Falcon 9 delivered its passengers via satellite into the correct orbit.
A live video broadcast from the missile showed the 27-foot (8 meters) SXM 7 spacecraft detaching from the Falcon 9 upper stage over Africa.
The spacecraft manufacturer Maxar confirmed the satellite was in good health after its launch on Sunday.
Maxar said the satellite expanded its solar arrays generating energy shortly after reaching space. The ground teams at Maxar have also established a satellite connection as expected.
“After that, the SXM 7 will start launching its propulsion engines to begin its journey into its geostationary orbit,” Maxar said.
The maneuvers will bolster the SXM 7 toward an operating platform in geostationary orbit over 22,000 miles (approximately 36,000 km). In this orbit, the spacecraft will orbit Earth at the same rate as the planet, giving SXM 7 a steady view of the Americas 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The satellite will provide continuous and reliable delivery of SiriusXM audio and entertainment services to consumers in the United States, and expand SiriusXM’s coverage area in Canada and the Caribbean for years to come,” SiriusXM Saiid said in a statement. “The SXM 7 will provide the highest energy density of any commercial satellite in orbit, sending more than 8,000 watts of content to the continental United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, increasing the signal strength and reach of SiriusXM.”
Once in geostationary orbit, the SXM 7 satellite – based on the design of the Maxar 1300 spacecraft – will launch a large S-band antenna made by L3Harris to broadcast radio signals to receivers on moving vehicles.
The SXM 7 is expected to replace the broadcast broadcasting satellite XM 3 at 85 ° West longitude. Built Boeing Plane The XM 3 satellite was launched in 2005 On board the Sea Launch Zenit 3SL missile.
The launch date of the SXM 7 was set earlier this year, but a problem encountered during testing of the Maxar spacecraft delayed the mission. SpaceX canceled Friday’s launch attempt to conduct additional terrestrial system checks.
SiriusXM said Sunday it has five satellites in its active fleet, with the XM 3 the oldest of them still in operation.
The company said in a statement that the launch of the SXM 7 and a dual satellite called SXM 8 next year – also on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket – would extend SiriusXM’s services until at least 2036.
SiriusXM’s SXM 7 satellite launch kicked off a busy week for SpaceX.
On December 6, SpaceX First upgraded Cargo Dragon spacecraft launched From Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The robotic supply ship – sporting upgrades and a new look based on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule – arrived at the International Space Station on Monday, December 7, for successful docking.
Meanwhile, SpaceX teams in South Texas launched a High altitude test flight From the company’s next-generation Starship vehicle Wednesday. The prototype of the 164-foot (50 m) missile flew to aircraft altitudes powered by methane-fueled Raptor engines and then performed a guided landing toward a landing pad at SpaceX’s test facility in Boca Chica, Texas, near the United States and Mexico. the border.
The Starship missile performed an exciting coup maneuver to prepare for the landing, but the vehicle erupted in a fireball as it descended. Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, hailed the test flight as a success.
The reusable spacecraft can eventually carry more than 100 tons of cargo into space, ferrying people to the moon, Mars and other deep space destinations.
With the launch of SXM 7, SpaceX has completed 25 successful Falcon 9 missions so far in 2020.
There is another launch remaining in SpaceX’s schedule this year. The Falcon 9 missile is scheduled to launch from Platform 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center no later than 9 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) Thursday with a secret payload for the National Reconnaissance Office, the US government’s space spying agency.
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