1 hour 25 minutes before liftoff during final countdown operations, the Soyuz launcher’s automated sequence was interrupted. The rocket with the CHEOPS space telescope on board should have taken off from ESA’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on Tuesday morning, 17.12.2019 shortly before 10 a.m. CET. A software error in the Fregat upper stage led to an aborted take-off. The launcher and its satellite payloads were placed in a fully safe standby mode.
The launch pad in Kourou. (Photo: Michael Weinmann)
“It happens very often that a launch is postponed”, said Luigi Colangeli, Head of ESA’s Science Coordination Office at an event organized by the University of Bern for the launch of the mission.
If the error is found and eliminated, there are two possible launch dates for CHEOPS: Wednesday, 18.12. or Thursday, 19.12, each just before 10 am. The new target launch date will be announced by Arianespace.