Europe’s Ariane 5 final launch put off over tech snag

This photograph taken on June 15, 2023, shows the assembled Ariane 5 rocket at the opening of the doors of the final assembly building ahead of a planned roll to the launch pad at Europe’s Spaceport, the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. (PHOTO / AFP)

PARIS – The final launch of Europe's Ariane 5 rocket, mission VA261, initially scheduled for Friday at Kourou in French Guiana, is officially postponed by its operator Arianespace.

"It has come to light that there is a risk to the redundancy of a critical function on the Ariane 5. Consistent with safety requirements, Arianespace has decided to postpone the rollout of the #VA261 launch vehicle," the company said in a press release on Thursday.

Arianespace said that it would conduct analyses to determine a new launch date to carry two satellites into space.

According to the company, the satellites that the Ariane 5 rocket is supposed to carry are the German satellite Heinrich-Hertz-Satellite and the French military communications satellite Syracuse 4B

According to the company, the satellites that the Ariane 5 rocket is supposed to carry are the German satellite Heinrich-Hertz-Satellite and the French military communications satellite Syracuse 4B.

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In a previous press release, Arianespace said that the mission VA261 would last 33 minutes and 31 seconds and place both payloads into a geostationary transfer orbit.

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Arianespace operates the Ariane 5 for the European Space Agency (ESA). Debuted in 1996, Ariane 5 rocket has been the cornerstone of Europe's independent access to space with 116 launches.

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The inaugural flight of its successor Ariane 6, a new heavy-lift launch vehicle, will only be possible from the fourth quarter of 2023 at the earliest, the ESA said last year.