Satellite launch headaches affecting business

Arianespace’s already delayed launch of Measat 3b and its co-passenger Optus-10 satellite have been further impacted by the decision to send Optus-10 back from French Guiana to its manufacturers in California for examination.

No fresh date has been given for the launch of Measat-3b. One option quoted is to bring forward the availability of an Argentinean satellite, Arsat-1, because it is a smaller craft and can fit into the lower section of the Ariane’s rocket cargo bay. But industry sources suggest that, at best, this could not be done much before September, and by then Optus-10 could be back in position.

However, the bottom line in all this is that this will impact launches already planned for this summer and autumn. Ariane is contracted to launch G-Sat-15, StarOne C4, the already mentioned Arsat-1, Intelsat-30 and the giant Thor-7 all this year.

The launch delay problems are further exacerbated by the non-availability of the Russian Proton rocket following on from a catastrophic loss on May 16. A Failure Review Board has yet to report on the cause of the crash.  International Launch Services (ILS), which handles the commercial launches of the Proton system (and were not responsible for the May 16th event) has clients waiting to launch their craft. One report says that Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency, has a satellite ready at Baikonur for launch in early July.

ILS itself is contracted to launch Turksat 4B, Astra 2G and a host of other craft before year-end.

Also with problems on its hands is SpaceX and its Falcon-9 rocket. A helium leak on a planned launch of 6 smaller satellites for Orbcomm forced it to scrap a mid-May launch, that now will slip into June. This will mean planned launches for AsiaSat-6 and AsiaSat-8 will be affected.

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