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SpaceX launches a new satellite for SiriusXM radio

SpaceX also launched a satellite for SiriusXM in January 2021, but the satellite failed once in orbit.
Credit: Malcolm Denemark/Florida Today/Florida Today via AP
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a SiriusXM satellite glows yellow in the sky after launch early Sunday, June 6, 2021, at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX successfully launched a satellite early Sunday morning for SiriusXM.

About 30 minutes after liftoff, SpaceX's live stream showed the deployment of SXM-8 satellite.

The previous story is below.

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SpaceX may be best known for launching Starlink internet satellites, but they’re now also the company launching satellites for SiriusXM satellite radio.

SpaceX will attempt to launch the SXM-8 satellite on Sunday, June 6, from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 40.

This will be the second launch of a SiriusXM satellite that SpaceX has performed. On Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, SpaceX used the Falcon 9 rocket to carry the SXM-7 radio satellite into orbit but the satellite later failed while in orbit. 

Maxar Technologies, a space technology company headquartered in Westminster, Colorado, built the satellite for Sirius XM at a cost of $225 million. 

The SXM-7 is massive in size, weighing in at about 7,000 kilograms. This is about the same weight as 5 compact cars.

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The SXM-7 was launched on December 13, 2020 and successfully reached geostationary orbit. But after weeks of testing, a failure occurred. The satellite was declared a total loss in February 2021.

The technicians at Maxar Technologies might never know precisely what happened to SXM-7. According to Advanced-Televison.com, the satellite was working perfectly, yet failed a few weeks later on January 16th.

Maxar Technologies delivered the new SXM-8 satellite to the launch facility in Cape Canaveral in early March this year. It’s another giant 7,000-kilogram satellite. SXM-8 is expected to provide service for 15 years or longer. 

Once in orbit, it will unfurl a large antenna reflector which will allow SiriusXM programming to reach mobile radios, such as those in moving vehicles.

Maxar says they have a decades-long relationship with SiriusXM and is the ninth satellite they have built for them since 2000. 

The SXM-8 is more than twice as big and powerful as the first-generation SiriusXM constellation built by Maxar more than two decades ago.

The launch is scheduled for Sunday, June 6 with a launch window between 12:25 a.m. and 2:26 a.m. ET. After launch, the re-usable Falcon 9 rocket will return to Earth on the drone ship called "Just Read the Instructions".

Night launches are often very visible with the bright, fiery exhaust easily visible all the way in Tampa Bay. However, cloud cover may cause visibility issues. The weather may even cause a launch scrub. Conditions will need to be monitored. 

To attempt to view the launch from Tampa Bay, find a good open view of the northeastern horizon around midnight Saturday night. You can usually find a live stream of the launch on social media by following 10 Tampa Bay or SpaceX to get updated information. 

Within the first couple of hours of Sunday morning, weather and technology willing, you’ll be able to see the incredible SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blast all of your favorite music and podcasts up into space for your listening pleasure, with a SiriusXm subscription, of course.

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