Ariane 5 launch facing further delays as a general strike hits French Guiana

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An Ariane 5 launch is facing further delays as a general strike hits French Guiana.

Strikes pushed back the launch several times last week, and unrest is escalating as 27 unions plan a general strike today in the French overseas holding.

Air France has cancelled flights to Cayenne, French Guiana, and the U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning recommending U.S. citizens not travel to French Guiana.

Arianespace has not provided a new launch date for the Ariane 5 launch, carrying two communications satellites. [AP]


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SpaceX is planning to launch this week the first Falcon 9 with a reused first stage. The Falcon 9 will launch the SES-10 satellite from the Kennedy Space Center, using a rocket whose first stage first flew on a Dragon cargo mission last April, landing on a SpaceX drone ship. The launch is scheduled for late Wednesday, but could slip to Thursday after SpaceX postponed a static fire test scheduled for yesterday. SpaceX has pinned its hopes for dramatically reducing the cost of space access on its ability to reuse boosters multiple times. [Florida Today]

Astronauts successfully completed the first of three EVAs outside the space station on Friday. Shane Kimbrough and Thomas Pesquet spent six and a half hours outside the station, successfully disconnecting cables for a docking adapter that will be moved to another port on the ISS as well as other maintenance work. A second in the series of spacewalks, by Kimbrough and Peggy Whitson, is scheduled for Thursday. [CBS]

The future of a planned NASA mission to intercept an asteroid depends on what budget NASA receives from Congress in the next month. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission is designed to fly to the near Earth asteroid Didymos and collide with a small moon orbiting the asteroid, demonstrating the ability of such impacts to deflect orbits. DART is currently in a “bridge” between Phases A and B, awaiting a decision on a 2017 budget for NASA. Complicating the process is an ESA decision in December not to fund development of a companion spacecraft called AIM that would witness the impact. The AIM team is working on options that could reduce the mission’s cost. [SpaceNews]

Vector Space Systems said Saturday it will fly its small launch vehicle from a Cape Canaveral pad.The company said it’s planning to fly its Vector-R rocket from Launch Complex 46, a site that has been dormant in recent years but which will host a Minotaur 4 launch this summer. The company also said it’s interested in building rockets in the area, but has no firm agreements in place yet to build or launch from Florida. The company, which is building a factory in Arizona, has yet to launch a Vector-R, but is planning a suborbital test flight in the coming weeks from California. [Florida Today]

President Trump used his weekly address to talk about NASA. The president discussed the signing last week of the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 in his speech, although said little about specific space policy plans of his administration. Instead, the speech highlighted past accomplishments and future plans of the agency, from the use of the Hubble Space Telescope to make the Hubble Deep Field observations two decades ago to development of the James Webb Space Telescope. [Space.com]

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NASA will fund a balloon-borne astronomical observatory that will study emissions from the interstellar medium. The Galactic/Extragalactic ULDB Spectroscopic Terahertz Observatory (GUSTO) mission will fly an instrument on an Ultralong-Duration Balloon (ULDB) over Antarctica to measure carbon, nitrogen and oxygen emissions from the interstellar medium in our galaxy and the neighboring Large Magellanic Cloud. GUSTO will fly in 2021 for 100–170 days at a planned cost of $40 million as part of NASA’s Explorer program of astrophysics missions. [NASA]

Life didn’t show much at the box office this weekend. The movie, about a Martian life form that runs amok on a space station, brought in $12.6 million at the box office in North America, finishing fourth. That outcome is considered “a major disappointment” for a movie that had some good reviews but mixed reactions from moviegoers, who gave it a CinemaScore grade of only C+. [Hollywood Reporter]