SpaceX scrubs SiriusXM satellite launch, will try again Sunday

(Photo courtesy SpaceX)

SpaceX scrubbed its planned launch of a new SiriusXM satellite on Friday, delaying the deployment of SXM-7, a new communications satellite intended for better radio and data broadcast coverage.

The launch was delayed more than an hour on Friday before countdown finally commenced. But with 30 seconds left to go before the Falcon 9 rocket carrying SXM-7 was set to blast off, SpaceX’s mission control issued a “hold” call, which reset the countdown clock to 15 minutes.

A few moments later, an announcer on SpaceX’s official web broadcast said the launch had been postponed until Sunday at the earliest.

No reason was given for the postponement, though officials were reportedly concerned about strong wind in the area of Cape Canaveral, Florida where the rocket was scheduled to deploy.

The new SXM-7 satellite is replacing XM-3, a communications satellite deployed by what was then XM Satellite Radio in 2005. XM merged with Sirius Satellite Radio in 2008 to become SiriusXM.

The SXM-7 satellite will provided better broadcast coverage and capabilities for SiriusXM’s commercial radio product as well as its datacast services for cars, boats and aircraft. Datacast services provided by SiriusXM include navigation, traffic conditions and weather forecasts.

Next month, SpaceX is expected to launch another satellite, SXM-8, into orbit, which will replace XM-4.

The SXM-7 and SXM-8 satellites were both built by Maxar Technologies, a Colorado-based company that has built other radio and data satellites for SiriusXM through the company’s two-decade history.

SiriusXM Pandora provides more than 70 channels of commercial-free music curated by its staff of tastemakers and veteran broadcasters. It also offers hot talk programming, including the flagship morning program “Howard Stern Show,” as well as audio simulcasts of cable news channels on its traditional satellite radio service.

In addition to satellite radio, the company operates the personalized Internet radio service Pandora and the podcast app Stitcher.