Arianespace was forced to canceled a scheduled Ariane 5 launch on Tuesday due to striking workers in French Guiana.
The booster was to have launched the SGDC and Koreasat 7 communications satellites. No new date has been set for the flight.
Workers from Endel Engie, the company tasked with driving the Ariane 5 rocket from its assembly building to the launch pad at the Guiana Space Center, went on strike Monday and prevented the booster’s rollout. A union representative told French media that the strike was called to reopen wage negotiations….
The Endel Engie strike was part of a wider net of protests this week across French Guiana, a lightly-populated French department on the northeastern coast of South America. France Guyane, a local newspaper, reported Thursday that most businesses in Cayenne, the territory’s capital, were closed and large aircraft were prohibited from landing at the city’s airport.
Some schools in French Guiana were also closed this week, and an Air France flight from Paris to Cayenne turned around over the Atlantic Ocean and returned to France on Thursday.
Local workers are protesting high crime rates, hiring practices and economic conditions in French Guiana, along with the proposed privatization of the Kourou Medical and Surgical Center, or CMCK, in the town closest to the space center.
Arianespace issued the follow statement on Thursday.
The evolution of the situation does not permit the restart of operations for the Ariane 5 launch scheduled for today, Thursday, March 23, Arianespace has decided to postpone the launch.
The launch vehicle, with its SGDC and KOREASAT-7 satellite payloads, remain in a stand-by mode and are being maintained in fully safe conditions.
Arianespace Flight VA236 – which is scheduled to launch SGDC for Telebras S.A., performed within the framework of a contract with SGDC prime contractor VISIONA Tecnologia Espacial S.A.; and KOREASAT-7 for ktsat.