Arianespace cancels Ariane 5 launch over ISRO satellite issue

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WASHINGTON — An Ariane 5 launch has been cancelled after an unexplained problem with an Indian space agency satellite that was supposed to ride on the mission.

Evry, France-based Arianespace, operator of the Ariane 5 rocket, said April 24 that the Indian Space Research Organisation recalled its GSAT-11 satellite back to an agency test facility in Bangalore, India for “additional technical checks.”

GSAT-11, a hefty 5,870-kilogram satellite designed to provide 12 Gbps of capacity, had arrived at the European spaceport in French Guiana on March 28 in anticipation of a May 25 launch with Azerspace-2/Intelsat-38, a so-called “condosat” shared by Azerbaijani satellite operator Azercosmos and global fleet operator Intelsat.

Arianespace said the SSL-built Azerspace-2/Intelsat-38 will launch sometime this summer with a new co-passenger.

ISRO has yet to state a reason for withdrawing GSAT-11. The move comes as ISRO tries to recover GSAT-6, an Indian telecom satellite that went silent after its March 29 launch.

As a result of the reshuffling at the spaceport, Arianespace said its next mission won’t be until July when another Ariane 5 is scheduled to launch four Galileo navigation satellites for the European Commission and the European Space Agency.

Arianespace said the remainder of its 2018 launch manifest “remains unchanged” and that a new date and co-passenger for Azerspace-2/Intelsat-38 “will be announced shortly.”