Strike Postpones Kourou Satellite Launch
September 21, 2011

Strike Postpones Kourou Satellite Launch


A strike at the Kourou space center in French Guiana has forced the launch of an Ariane-5 rocket with two communication satellites aboard to be postponed until further notice, the National Center for Space Studies (CNES) said on Wednesday.

The launch would have marked the 60th mission of Ariane 5. It was to carry the satellites Arabsat-5C and SES-2 into orbit, but the strike, initiated by Telezpazio, a business at the base specializing in radars, forced authorities to scrap the launch.

The strike between Telezpazio and the Trade Union of French Guiana Workers (UTG) affected the Spaceport´s measurement means and made the mission impossible to complete, the Arianespace center said in a statement.

“As a result, Arianespace and the Spaceport's operator - the French CNES space agency - have decided to delay the mission,” the statement said.

“The business [Telezpazio] works on radars which are of course a sensitive issue during launch periods. And the means are not available,” a spokesperson for CNES said.

European satellite company SES said in a statement that the strike was the reason for the delay of the launch. SES-2 is meant to replace the AMC-3 satellite that provides communication services to a variety of global customers, including those in North America.

The Arabsat-5C telecommunications satellite was also scheduled to launch. That satellite was meant to cover communications in North Africa and Saudi Arabia.

The strike began Tuesday, a day after another Spaceport business, Cegelec Space, went on strike. The unions want a pay raise and a bonus for working on Sundays, said Jean Pustay, a spokesperson for union group Force Ouvriere (FO).

“Talks are underway with the management but they're not moving forward very quickly,” Pustay told AFP.

CNES and Telezpazio have asked the UTG and FO to continue labor-management talks.

The Spaceport said it would announce a new launch date as soon as possible.


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