Ariane 5 Launch Delayed for Cable Swap

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RIO DE JANEIRO — The scheduled April 15 launch of an Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket carrying telecommunications satellites for the French and Italian militaries and commercial operator Telenor has been postponed for about 10 days following a defective cryogenic cable connecting the rocket and the launch pad, launch provider Arianespace said.

Logos for the launch's two passengers —Thor 7 and Sicral 2 — are installed on the Ariane 5 payload fairing. Credit: Arianespace
Logos for the launch’s two passengers —Thor 7 and Sicral 2 — are installed on the Ariane 5 payload fairing. Credit: Arianespace

Evry, France-based Arianespace said it would announce a new launch date in the coming days.

The launch, which will be the first of up to seven Ariane 5 liftoffs planned this year, will carry the French-Italian Sicral 2 telecommunications satellite, which carries separate payloads for each of the two nations’ military services. Also aboard is the Thor 7 commercial telecommunications satellite owned by Telenor Satellite Broadcasting of Norway.

For Sicral 2 prime contractor Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy, the delay might force a juggling of launch teams. Another of the company’s satellites, for the government of Turkmenistan, is awaiting a late April launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida — a launch that had been delayed from March.

In an April 14 statement, Arianespace said the problem was noticed during the launcher’s roll-out to the launch pad and concerns a line connecting the rocket’s cryogenic upper stage with the launch pad. The company said the defective part would be replaced.