Arianespace seeks India cancellation redress

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Back in March 2018, an India satellite (GSAT-6A) suffered a catastrophic loss of power. The power system loss caused a major rethink on the launch of GSAT-11, which had been shipped to French Guiana ready for launch in May.

That launch was scrubbed and the GSAT-11 satellite sent back to India for examination and modifications to be carried out. Incidentally, the cancelled availability thwarted India’s co-passenger – Intelsat – on the Arianespace launch which should have carried two satellites into orbit. Intelsat will now launch its delayed Intelsat-38 in September.

Reports out of India suggest that Arianespace is now demanding compensation for the delay. India’s New Indian Express states that India’s Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has received a demand for pre-payment for two forward planned launches (GSAT-30 and GSAT-31) and that pre-payment must be made by next week, August 15th.

The situation is complicated because the two satellites had been planned to be launched on India-built rockets (the GSLV-Mk III version) which can handle satellite weights up to about 4 tonnes.

GSAT-11, the cancelled launch, weight some 5.7 tonnes and thus could only be launched by Arianespace. Arianespace is on record saying that any re-scheduled launch of GSAT-11 would have to wait until much later in 2019. Evidently, that date has no been brought forward – although the condition is reportedly that India must award two launch contract to Arianespace for the GSAT-30/31 pair.

Arianespace does have a standard penalty clause in its launch contracts equal to 5 per cent of the launch fee should a launch be cancelled.


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