Latin America & Caribbean

Spaceport protest delays rocket launch in French Guiana

A handout photo released on 14 February 2017 shows the liftoff of flight VA235, Ariane 5 ECA, from the Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, France, 14 February 2017 Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Ariane 5 rocket during a previous launch

The launch of a French rocket from a space centre in French Guiana has been delayed after workers erected barricades as part of a labour dispute.

The Ariane 5 rocket was due to take a South Korean satellite and a Brazilian satellite into orbit later on Tuesday.

But the booster could not be rolled to the launch pad because of the protest at the Guiana Space Center over what workers for energy company EDF said were "deplorable working conditions".

The launch has been moved to Wednesday.

Workers used tyres and wooden pallets to erect barricades at the facility in French Guiana.

Satellite launch company Arianespace said in a statement that "due to a social movement, it was not possible to carry out today's [Monday's] scheduled transfer of the launch vehicle from the Spaceport's Final Assembly Building to the launch zone."

It said that the launch vehicle, as well as the satellites had been "placed in a stand-by mode and are being maintained in fully safe conditions".

The two satellites, owned by Brazil and South Korea respectively, aim to improve internet access to remote communities in Brazil and provide a range of video and data services over East and Southeast Asia.

It is not the first time industrial action has delayed a launch at the Kourou Space Centre.

In 2011, another Ariane 5 rocket launch had to be moved back when workers demanded extra pay for working on Sundays.

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