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Ariane 5 launch to re-supply Space Station delayed

2 Mar 2012, 12:01 UTC
Ariane 5 launch to re-supply Space Station delayed
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A day after completing final assembly of the Ariane 5 rocket and its Automated Transfer Vehicle payload loaded with supplies for the International Space Station, the European Space Agency has decided to delay the scheduled 9 March launch, stating simply: “A routine inspection has concluded that additional measures are required to ensure the maximum readiness.”There is no indication so far of the possible extent of the delay, with ESA simply saying that a new launch date will be announced as soon as possible.The 9 March slot sits in a relatively narrow window, given the amount of traffic coming and going from the ISS. ESA, for example, could not have delayed for many days the 13 February maiden flight of its new Vega light launcher, for fear of interfering with the ATV mission. ESA’s Kourou, French Guiana space centre could cope with nearly simultaneous launches – the rockets fly from adjacent pads – but both missions need the same set of ground stations, including some shipboard receivers that need to be repositioned between the two flights.Ariane 5′s hiccup is not the only launch delay impacting ISS operations. Also this week it has emerged that ESA astronaut André Kuipers will stay on ...

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