Arianespace postpones launch “indefinitely”

A hard-hitting labour strike in French Guiana has forced Arianespace to again delay the launch of two satellites, including a communications satellite for KoreaSat.

Arianespace says it has had to postpone the rocket launch “indefinitely”. Also impacting the situation is that Air France is cancelling its daily flights to Cayenne, the capital city. One flight, reportedly carrying some engineers and technicians for the space centre at Kourou (Air France 852 on Thursday) turned back to Paris when well over the Atlantic Ocean and some four hours into the journey.

“The evolution of the situation in French Guiana does not permit the restart of operations for the Ariane 5 launch scheduled for today,” Arianespace said in a statement March 23. “Arianespace has decided to postpone the launch.”

The local strike includes workers who normally move the giant Ariane 5 rocket from its assembly building to the launch pad. But the strike extends well beyond the space centre, and protests have shut down schools, roads are being blocked and municipal buildings closed.

Workers from the company responsible for moving the rocket (Endel) were reported March 24 to have ended their protests and were flown to the space centre by helicopter in order to pass over the local road blocks.

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