Today, December 11, SpaceX was scheduled to deploy the SXM-7 music-streaming satellite for SiriusXM Radio service. A six-times-flown Falcon 9 rocket was venting on Launch Pad-40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, ready to ignite its nine Merlin 1D engines and deploy the satellite to orbit this afternoon. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 halted the mission approximately 30 seconds before liftoff at 12:55 p.m. EST. –“Standing down from today’s launch attempt to perform additional ground system checkouts; teams are working toward no earlier than Sunday, December 13 for next launch attempt of SXM-7,” SpaceX wrote in an announcement via Twitter. Now, the mission is scheduled for Sunday morning at 7:13 a.m. EST.
The Falcon 9 rocket’s first-stage that will conduct SiriusXM mission is a flight-proven booster that will make its seventh launch into space. The booster is identified as B1051. It is filled with scorch marks from reentering Earths atmosphere multiple times. B1051 rocket previously supported SpaceX’s historic Demo-1 mission that propelled an uncrewed Crew Dragon spacecraft for the first time to the International Space Station in March 2019. B1051 also propelled the RADARSAT Constellation to orbit, as well as four Starlink satellite launches in 2020. The SMX-7 mission will mark the second time SpaceX has launched a Falcon 9 for the seventh time. SpaceX plans to recover the rocket’s first-stage again, approximately nine minutes after propelling SiriusXM’s SXM-7 satellite to orbit on Sunday. SpaceX engineers aim to recover a rocket’s first-stage booster at least 10 times to significantly decrease the cost of spaceflight. To date, the most flights a particular booster has achieved is seven which is a huge accomplishment in the aerospace industry.
Falcon 9 will deploy the 15,400-pound SXM-7 satellite into geostationary transfer orbit where it will broadcast its signal to millions of SiriusXM Radio subscribers across North America. SiriusXM enables subscribers to stream commercial-free, personalized music and podcasts to their cars’ radio or online. Satellite radio enables a more stable connection compared to traditional terrestrial frequency modulation (FM) radio stations. Maxar Technologies developed the satellite for SiriusXM. The company states “SXM-7 will deliver the highest power density of any commercial satellite on-orbit, sending more than 8,000 watts of content to the continental U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, increasing the quality of signal for SiriusXM subscribers.”