Arianespace Delays Soyuz Rocket Launch to Friday for Extra Checks
An Arianespace Soyuz rocket launches the SES-15 communications satellite into orbit in May 2017. Arianespace will use a Soyuz to launch four new O3b mobile communications satellites into orbit on March 9, 2018 from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.
Credit: Arianespace

The European launch provider Arianespace has delayed the launch of a Soyuz rocket carrying four new mobile communications satellites to no earlier than Friday (March 9) to conduct extra checks for the mission.

An Arianespace Soyuz rocket was scheduled to launch the four O3b communications satellites today (March 6) from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. But yesterday, Arianespace announced it would delay the mission to Friday.  

"This will enable additional checks as part of the resumption of launches from the Spaceport in French Guiana," Arianespace wrote in a mission update. The launch is now scheduled for Friday at 11:37 a.m. EST (1637 GMT).

The Soyuz launch will follow on the heels of Arianespace's launch of an Ariane 5 rocket on Jan. 25 that placed two communications satellites —SES-14 (which carries NASA's GOLD Earth-watching instrument) and Al Yah 3 —in the wrong orbit after liftoff. Both satellites were later found to be in good health and should be able to complete their missions, Arianespace and NASA officials have said.

Last week, Arianespace representatives said the company had traced the issue to faulty coordinates given to the Ariane 5 rocket.

The upcoming Soyuz mission will a quartet of O3b mobile communications satellites for satellite operator SES Networks. They will join 12 other 03b satellites already in orbit to provide global high-speed connectivity for customers around the world.

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+