XM Satellite Radio breathed a sigh of relief Sunday, as it successfully launched the first of its two planned satellites into space. The launch of XM-1, nicknamed Rock, lifted off from the Sea-Launch floating platform on the equator in the Pacific Ocean without a hitch. The second, going under the name Roll, launches sometime in the summer, before the planned bow of XM’s 100 both commercial and commercial-free satellite radio stations out of its broadcast studio in Washington, D.C., for $10 a month subscription fee.
The recent launch comes after the cancellation of the high-profile launch of Rock at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Within months of the May launch of the XM-2 satellite, Washington-based XM hopes to start beaming up to 100 channels of radio programming to subscribers across the United States. “We want to be the HBO of radio,” said XM CEO Hugh Panero. XM has a deal with General Motors, Honda and Isuzu to ship XM-equipped radios in their cars, while Delphi Delco, Alpine, Pioneer and Clarion will build the radios. Stronger rival Sirius Satellite Radio has secured Ford, Chrysler, BMW and Mercedes and manufacturers Sony, Sanyo and Pioneer. The company’s satellites have already been launched.