Arianespace sets May 4 for Ariane 5 launch
After a resolution to the month-long protests that halted launches at the South American spaceport in French Guiana, Arianespace announced new dates for its next three flights to space.
Flight VA236 is scheduled to launch sometime in a 2-hour, 48-minute window opening at 4:31 p.m. EDT (20:31 GMT) May 4, 2017. It will utilize an Ariane 5 rocket to carry two communications satellites, Brazil’s SGDC and KTSat’s Koreasat-7, into a geostationary transfer orbit.
The mission was originally slated to launch on March 21, just days after the protests broke out. However, because of the strike, Arianespace was unable to finish pre-flight operations.
The Ariane 5 flight will be followed by a Soyuz launch with the SES-15 satellite. That mission is expected to take to the skies on May 18.
Finally, on June 1, another Ariane 5 is expected to launch to take ViaSat-2 and Eutelsat-172b into a geostationary transfer orbit.
Arianespace said that it still expects to launch its 12 originally manifested flights for 2017, despite the month-long delay.
With three launches already performed this year, and three more expected within the next five weeks, that leaves six more for the second half of 2017. The company said the schedule for them remains unchanged.
The country-wide protests that halted Arianespace operations were sparked because of economic differences between France and its overseas department French Guiana. A combination of an income gap, a lack of jobs or educational opportunities, as well as an absence of modern utilities in the region, prompted workers to seek assistance from the mainland.
France has agreed to send $2.39 billion (2.21 billion euros) in emergency relief funding to French Guiana. That is in addition to $1.08 billion (1 billion euros) earlier in April.
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity. You can find him on twitter @TheSpaceWriter.