SpaceX launched its 18th launch of the year on Sunday, June 6. A Falcon 9 rocket lit up the midnight sky with its nine Merlin 1D engines at around 12:26 a.m. EDT, as the a previously-flown booster lifted off a third time to deploy SiriusXM’s SXM-8 satellite from Launch Complex-40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The SXM-8 satellite is designed to upgrade the radio streaming service. SiriusXM’s broadcasting constellation provides service to around 34.9 million subscribers in the United States. SXM-8 is the company's fifth satellite in orbit.
The booster that supported Sunday’s mission is identified as B1061, it previously conducted two crewed flights – SpaceX’s Crew-1 and Crew-2 mission that launched astronauts to the International Space Station. Approximately 9-minutes after launching SXM-8 to orbit, the booster returned from space with a propulsive landing on SpaceX’s ‘Just Read The Instructions’ (JRTI) autonomous droneship that was stationed around 642-kilometers downrange off Florida’s Coast. The landing marked the 87th time SpaceX has recovered an orbital-class rocket. To date, the company has completed 125 successful missions and reused boosters 63 times and aims to reuse Falcon 9 first-stage boosters in the Block 5 series 10 times.
Falcon 9’s first stage booster has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship pic.twitter.com/gwz6GIdhns— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 6, 2021
Approximately 30-minutes after liftoff, Falcon 9’s second-stage arrived to its designated orbit where it released SiriusXM’s SXM-8 satellite, video below. The music-beaming satellite will replace the company’s old XM-4 satellite in geostationary orbit. SXM-8 is the second of two next-generation high power S-band broadcast satellites manufactured by Maxar Technologies for SiriusXM. The 7.5 ton (~15,432 pound) satellite is built on Maxar’s 1300-Class Platform which is designed to provide service for over 15 years. “Once on orbit, SXM-8 will unfurl its large antenna reflector(...). This reflector will allow SiriusXM programming to reach mobile radios, such as those in moving vehicles,” the company said.
Deployment of SXM-8 confirmed pic.twitter.com/3RHYWqU7qS— SpaceX (@SpaceX) June 6, 2021
*Correction June 6: Changed 15th to 18th launch of year.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX Live Broadcast
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.