French rocket launch delayed by labor protest

The launch of France’s Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana was delayed after workers used tires and wooden pallets to erect barricades over a labor dispute.

France's Ariane 5 rocket, seen here during a launch in November, was scheduled to blast off from French Guiana on Tuesday, but employees protesting what they called "deplorable working conditions" barricaded roads, preventing the rocket boosters from being transported to the launch pad. File Photo by Stephane Corvaja/ESA
France’s Ariane 5 rocket, seen here during a launch in November, was scheduled to blast off from French Guiana on Tuesday, but employees protesting what they called “deplorable working conditions” barricaded roads, preventing the rocket boosters from being transported to the launch pad. File Photo by Stephane Corvaja/ESA

The Ariane 5 was to take the KOREASAT-7 South Korean satellite and the SGDC Brazilian satellite into orbit on Tuesday but Arianespace, the satellite launch company, said the booster could not be transported to the launch pad at the Guiana Space Center on Monday.

Workers for the EDF energy company said they were protesting “deplorable working conditions.”
“Due to a social movement, it was not possible to carry out today’s scheduled transfer of the launch vehicle from the Spaceport’s Final Assembly Building to the launch zone,” Arianespace said in a statement on Monday. “As a result, Arianespace has decided to postpone the transfer by 24 hours.”

The Ariane 5 rocket is now scheduled to launch Wednesday afternoon.

“The launch vehicle, as well as its SGDC and KOREASAT-7 satellite payloads, have been placed in a stand-by mode and are being maintained in fully safe conditions,” Arianespace added.

By Andrew V. Pestano