SpaceX Rocket Launches Sirius XM Digital Radio Satellite

SpaceX Rocket Launches Sirius XM Digital Radio Satellite
SpaceX Rocket Launches Sirius XM Digital Radio Satellite

SpaceX launched a veteran Falcon 9 rocket on its third trip to space on Sunday to carry a massive radio satellite into orbit for Sirius XM before returning to Earth. 
The two-stage Falcon 9 rocket blasted off at 12:26 a.m. EDT (0426 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, marking the company's 18th launch of the year. It carried the SXM-8 digital radio satellite into orbit for customer Sirius XM, Space.com reported. 
Approximately 9 minutes later, the booster's first stage returned to Earth, landing on one of SpaceX's two drone ships, called "Just Read The Instructions" stationed out in the Atlantic Ocean. The launch occurred at the start of a nearly two-hour window.
"We have touchdown of Falcon 9," said SpaceX’s Jessie Anderson during the launch webcast. "Today marks the 87th overall successful recovery of an orbital class rocket."
The mission marked the second SpaceX launch in just three days from Florida's space coast, as a different Falcon 9 blasted off from Pad 39A at the nearby Kennedy Space Center on June 3. Its payload: a gumdrop-shaped cargo capsule bound for the International Space Station that arrived at the orbiting laboratory on Saturday morning to deliver 7,300-lbs. (3,311 kilograms) of science gear and supplies. 
Forecasters at the 45th Space Delta's weather squadron predicted only a 60% chance of favorable launch conditions due to residual clouds left over from some late night storms on Saturday. Despite the iffy outlook, SpaceX was able to launch right on time. 
The cloud layer provided some cool visuals as the sky glowed orange when the rocket climbed through the cloud layers on its way to orbit. 
For this mission, the 230-foot-tall (70 meters) Falcon 9 successfully delivered the high-powered radio broadcasting satellite Sirius XM-8 (SXM-8) into orbit. 
Built by Maxar Technologies for Sirius XM, it's one of two satellites to be launched by SpaceX to replace outdated ones currently on orbit. 
The rocket’s first stage booster, now with three successful launches and landings under its belt, touched down on SpaceX's "Just Read the Instructions" drone ship, which was waiting in the Atlantic. It marks the 87th recovery of a first stage booster for the California-based rocket manufacturer.  
The rocket featured in Sunday's predawn launch is another historic booster. Known as B1061, this flight-proven booster has carried two different astronaut crews to the space station, marking the first time humans flew on a reused booster. That historic mission blasted off from Kennedy Space Center on April 23. The rocket's first flight, dubbed Crew-1, launched in November 2020. 

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