Strikers (“les grevistes” in French) and protesters at the Kourou launch site in French Guiana have forced a suspension of all launches by Arianespace. The Ariane 5 ECA launch of 3,680 kg Koreasat-7 commercial communications and 5,735 kg Brazilian SGDC military communications satellite has already been delayed indefinitely from its originally planned 22 March launch date due to the protesters manning roadblocks around the Guiana Space Centre launch site. This prevented the rocket being moved to the actual launch pad.

The protests are related to working conditions and salary levels at the launch site, most of which is managed by the French Space Agency CNES. The initial industrial dispute subsequently spread to become a “general strike” with protesters complaining about the levels of healthcare, wage rates and farming produce prices in French Guiana.

Ariane 5 ECA on flight VA225 lifts off from Kourou. Courtesy: Arianespace

Ariane 5 ECA on flight VA225 lifts off from Kourou. Courtesy: Arianespace