Arianespace’s SES 2, Arabsat 5C Launch Delayed by Labor Strike
[Satellite TODAY Insider 09-22-11] An unexpected labor strike delayed Arianespace’s launch of the Arabsat 5C and SES 2 communications satellites just moments before the Ariane 5 rocket carrying the two payloads was set to launch, the launcher confirmed Sept. 21.
Arianespace Chairman and CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said the Trade Union of French Guiana Workers, which represents workers from Ariane subcontractor Telespazio and includes Ariane 5 radar tracking operators, organized the strike. These workers monitor the rocket’s ascent into space. “[The strike] had been going on for some time. It’s been quite difficult for us. We had confirmed a launch for tonight and I am very upset over the situation,” he said.
The Ariane 5 mission was already delayed from early September due to technical issues with the Ariane 5’s upper stage that were resolved in its most recent checkout. Arianespace proposed rescheduling the flight for Sept. 17, but postponed those plans after the trade union threatened to strike. Arianespace said the company thought it had reached an agreement with the union workers and that it would be able to launch the satellite on Sept. 20, but the launch controllers halted the countdown about seven hours before the scheduled liftoff.
Arianespace said it would develop a plan with the French space agency (CNES) to negotiate with the trade union and launch the rocket as soon as Sept. 21. The Arabsat 5C and SES 2 satellites remain in stable condition, awaiting launch.
When placed into orbit, the Astrium-built Arabsat 5C satellite aims to offer broadcasting, telephony, professional communications, Internet routing, VSAT and interactive services across the Middle East and Africa. Thales Alenia Space developed Arabsat 5C’s communications instruments, including four deployable antenna reflectors, 26 active C-band transponders and wide-band transponders over 10 locations in Ka-band. Saudi Arabian operator Arabsat procured the spacecraft to replace its Arabsat 2B satellite, which was launched in November 1996.
The SES 2 satellite was ordered by SES to replenish its fleet of satellites covering North America and designated for positioning at the 87 degrees West orbital slot. When launched, the C- and Ku-band satellite, built by Orbital Sciences, aims to connect customers across the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.
SES 2 also carries the U.S. Air Force’s Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload (CHIRP) as a secondary instrument. CHIRP’s mission will be to demonstrate infrared detection technologies from geosynchronous orbit for missile warning applications.