SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 rocket early Sunday from Cape Canaveral, this one boosting the SiriusXM-8 radio satellite into orbit to relay entertainment programming to receivers in cars, boats, homes and offices.
The past Maxar-built satellite in the series, SXM-7, bombed half a month after launch on another Falcon 9 last December. Yet, two older relay stations remain completely operational and SiriusXM plans to build a replacement for the one that fizzled.
The latest mission got going at 12:26 a.m. EDT when the Falcon 9 on pad 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station started up its nine first stage engines, pushing the 229-foot-tall rocket into an overcast for the time being sky with a thundering plane of blazing exhaust. It was the organization’s 18th Falcon 9 flight so far this year and its 121st overall.
Climbing away toward the east over the Atlantic Ocean with 1.7 million pounds of thrust, the rocket’s first stage, making its third flight, put on a natural yet at the same time emotional show apparent for scores of miles around on Florida’s Space Coast.
Two-and-a-half minutes after takeoff, the first stage engines shut down, the stage fell away and the flight forged ahead the force of the single vacuum-evaluated Merlin motor controlling the booster’s second stage.
The first stage, then, flipped around, fired three engines to back off for the dive once again into the lower atmosphere and afterward utilized a single engine to brake for arriving on a SpaceX droneship stationed several hundred miles down range.
The on-target touchdown was SpaceX’s 65th successful booster recovery at sea and its 87th overall.
The second stage did two motor firings to reach at the planned elliptical orbit, releasing the SXM-8 satellite to fly on its own 32 minutes after takeoff. The satellite will utilize its own propulsion system throughout the following half a month to arrive at the circular orbit 22,300 miles over the equator.
The 15,400-pound SXM-8 spacecraft features an enormous dish-shaped mesh antenna designed to relay programming to mobile radios across North America. The satellite has a plan life of 15 years.
SiriusXM initially wanted to planned to replace two older satellites, XM-3 and XM-4 — nicknamed Rhythm and Blues separately — with SXM-7, dispatched last December, and the indistinguishable SXM-8, launched Sunday.
With the disappointment of SXM-7 recently, it’s not yet known which of the older satellites SXM-8 will supplant once it’s fully activated.
Anyway it plays out, organization officials said the deficiency of SXM-7, which was safeguarded for $225 million, will no affect program conveyance and that both older satellites stay solid. Another older-generation satellite, XM-5, is accessible as an orbital spare if necessary.