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Ariane 5 Rocket Launch Scrubbed Due to Technical Glitch

Ariane 5 Rocket Launch Scrubbed Due to Technical Glitch
India's Insat 4B communications satellite is mated to its Ariane 5 booster for a planned March 10, 2007 launch. (Image credit: Arianespace.)

Two communications satellites will haveto wait at least one more day for a ride into space after a glitch with theirlaunch pad's water deluge system prevented the liftoff of an Ariane 5 rocket.

"We have decided toput a hold on the launch for this evening," Jean-Yves Le Gall, CEO of the Arianerocket launch firm Arianespace, who announced the scrub at Europe's GuianaSpace Center in Kourou, French Guiana.

The water deluge systemfloods the Ariane 5's launch site at liftoff as a safety measure to suppresssound and fire.

"It seems that wedidn't have a total 100 percent guarantee of this occurring," Le Gallsaid, adding that without such assurances, launch controllers opted to scrubthe space shot until Sunday to be safe.

A heavy-lift Ariane 5rocket was slated to launch India's commercial INSAT-4B satellite [image]and the British Ministry of Defence's Skynet-5A satellite [image]at 5:25 (2225 GMT), though flight controllers called a hold seven minutesbefore liftoff due to the water system glitch. Attempts to work around theproblem within the mission's 33-minute launch window were unsuccessful.

Le Gall said missioncontrollers are now working towards a possible Sunday launch attempt.

The planned space shot isexpected to be the first of up to six launches for Arianespace in 2007.

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Tariq Malik

SPACE.COM EDITOR IN CHIEF — Tariq joined the Space.com team in 2001 as a staff writer, and later editor, covering human spaceflight, exploration and space science. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Google+, Twitter and on Facebook.