French Guiana strike ends
April 24, 2017
By Chris Forrester
The European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, is getting back to work. The industrial action which had caused a near-complete month-long closedown of the region ended on April 21 when the French government and strike leaders signed an ‘Accord de Guyane’ agreement.
Officials at the spaceport, and from where Arianespace launch their rockets and satellites, say they are fully ready to re-start operations on 3 launch campaigns. The intention is to continue launching in May and June and to catch up lost time.
The first launch will be some 8 days after normality returns, and take two satellites (for South Korea and Brazil) into orbit. An SES-15 launch will follow, and the third campaign covers a dual launch of Eutelsat 172b and ViaSat of California’s ViaSat-2 craft. First will come the need to get conventional as well as spaceport supplies rolling and shipments – by sea and air – into French Guiana.
Stephane Israel, CEO at Arianespace, told French business newspaper Les Echos: “In the event of a restart on Monday, we will be able to meet our goal of 12 launches this year,” he said. We had planned six launches between the end of January and the end of April. We did three. But we did not have a planned launch from early May to late June. We should be able to take advantage of this available time on the base to complete the three deferred launches, and thus return to our original schedule.”
What is less than clear, however, are the losses – or delayed revenues – that have occurred. Israel addressed the point, saying: “It’s still too early to come up with a definitive figure, ” he says. This will depend in particular on our ability to meet our target of 12 launches, from which we have made commitments to our industrial partners on the basis. But the order of magnitude of the extra costs is about 500,000 euros per day for Arianespace and its partners. If we multiply this number by 30 days of [the strike], this gives an idea of the extra costs.