Commercial satellite launched only weeks ago fails

Capitalism in space: A new geosynchronous satellite intended to augment the SiriusXM radio service has failed only six weeks after launch on a Falcon 9 rocket.

Built by Maxar in Palo Alto, California, the SXM 7 satellite successfully launched Dec. 13 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station into an elliptical geostationary transfer orbit, then used its on-board engine to reach an orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator, where

SiriusXM announced the “failure of certain SXM 7 payload units” in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday. “An evaluation of SXM 7 is underway,” the company said. “The full extent of the damage to SXM 7 is not yet known.”

Though neither SiriusXM nor Maxar have released any details on the failure, they have also said the failure is unrelated to the launch. Their use of the word “damage” however is intriguing, as it suggests a kind of catastrophic failure, such as an impact from a piece of space junk.

We don’t know yet however and can only wait for more information. Losing a satellite like this only weeks after launch however is a big deal, as these satellites are now built to last one to two decades, at a minimum. Insurance will pay for a replacement, but it could take at least one to two years to launch it.