Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) say that its plans for the debut flight of the all-new Ariane 6 launch rocket have slipped into 2021.
Ariane 6 is the long-awaited replacement for the aging Ariane 5 rocket, and planned to be a valid financial competitor to SpaceX.
The pre-virus expectation was that the maiden flight would happen during Q4 this year. However, the widespread impact of the virus affected production of the rocket, its engines and right down the supply chain. It is also understood that work at the Kourou launch site is also well behind schedule.
ESA now says it is evaluating the impact of the pandemic and how the delays will impact the debut flight and subsequent commercial flights.
OneWeb, now in bankruptcy, had booked the Ariane 6 maiden flight to carry 30 of its Low Earth orbiting satellites. Reports suggest that the lack of a commercial payload will also delay the launch.