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SpaceX launches satellite for SiriusXM from Florida

By
Allen Cone
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the SXM 7 satellite at 12:30 p.m. for SiriusXM from Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida on Sunday. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the SXM 7 satellite at 12:30 p.m. for SiriusXM from Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida on Sunday. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 13 (UPI) -- SpaceX launched a radio communications satellite for SiriusXM from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Sunday afternoon amid blue skids and puffy clouds, two days after scrubbing the flight with 30 seconds until liftoff.

SpaceX had originally targeted the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket for 11:22 a.m. Sunday but pushed it back until 12:30 p.m., which was "optimized for launch and recovery," the company posted on Twitter.

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There was a window of one hour and 59 minutes. And the weather had improved to 80 percent "favorable," SpaceX tweeted.

The company didn't say what caused the halt Friday, which occurred before the rocket was to lift off at 12:55 p.m. EST from Complex 40.

The launch was the 25th SpaceX launch this year and the seventh for the reusable first-stage booster. It previously launched an uncrewed Crew Dragon test flight for NASA in 2019.

The first stage separated from the Falcon 9 and landed about 9 minutes after liftoff on a drone ship, Just Read the Instructions, in the Atlantic Ocean.

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The satellite, SXM-7, is to aid delivery of SiriusXM's entertainment and data services to more than 100 million subscribers in North America, according to the company. SiriusXM and its streaming app, Pandora, reach 150 million people per month, the company said.

"Following ... the launch, the [satellite] will join five other satellites in SiriusXM's active satellite fleet," Kate Tice, a SpaceX senior engineer, said during a live broadcast. "After joining the fleet, there's an expectation that it will replace the XM-3 satellite."

The XM-3 was launched in March 2005. Maxar has built all seven of SiriusXM's satellites, including the first spacecraft that were launched in 2000.

XM Satellite Radio's first broadcast was in 2001, nearly four months before Sirius. The two companies merged in 2008.

The satellite includes a large antenna and solar arrays that span 100 feet when unfurled, weighing in total more than 15,400 pounds. Built by Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, Calif., it is designed to provide service for 15 years or longer.

On Thursday night, United Launch Alliance launched a Delta IV Heavy spy satellite for the U.S. government from a nearby pad.

Paul Brinkmann contributed to this report.
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