Sea Launch was contracted to lift two XM satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit for XM Satellite Radio Inc., based in Washington, D.C. The satellites - called Rock (XM-2) and Roll (XM-1) - will each transmit up to 100 channels of digital-quality music, news, sports, talk, comedy and children's radio to subscribers across the continental United States. The company is creating and packaging programming at a state-of-the-art, all-digital broadcast center. XM-2/Rock was launched on March 18.
Built by Boeing Satellite Systems of El Segundo, Calif., the 702 model satellites are the most powerful spacecraft built to date. Each will provide 18 kilowatts of total power at beginning of life. To generate such high power, two solar wings employ five panels each of high-efficiency, dual junction gallium arsenide solar cells. To provide 15 years of service, the Boeing 702 carries the flight-proven xenon ion propulsion system (XIPS) for on-orbit maneuvering. Boeing Satellite Systems is the world's leading manufacturer of commercial communications satellites. Alcatel Space of Toulouse, France, provided the high-power, S-band, Digital Audio Radio Service payloads for both spacecraft.