European commercial launch services provider Arianespace has postponed launching two communication satellites GSAT-10 and ASTRA 2F from a spaceport in Kourou in French Guiana after it found a technical issue with the Ariane 5 rocket.
The designated Arianespace flight VA209 was scheduled to launch on 22 September. However, Arianespace found a small snag on the upper side of the rocket and it is trying to determine if 1g of dust particles were stuck to critical moving parts.
According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K Radhakrishnan, damage was found to the air hose connecting the launch pad and rocket as dust particles could have stuck inside the shield where the two satellites are placed.
However, ISRO expects its GSAT-10 launch to be rescheduled for 29 September.
The launch of GSAT is expected to augment communication transponder capacity to 198 from 168 currently in the Indian satellite (INSAT) system, Radhakrishnan added.
Weighing 3.4t, GSAT-10 will carry 30 transponders, including a global positioning system (GPS) assisted Geo augmented navigation (Gagan) payload operating in L1 and L5 bands.
It will be the second Indian satellite after GSAT-8 to carry the Gagan payload for providing navigation services to airlines.
ASTRA 2F is a multi-mission satellite, carrying Ku- and Ka-band payloads to provide high-performance direct-to-home (DTH) and next generation broadband services in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
The satellite was built on the Eurostar E3000 Platform by EADS Astrium, a commercial satellite manufacturer, for Luxembourg-based commercial satellite operator SES, and weighs 6t.
It will be the first of a series of three satellites that will be positioned at 28.2° East between 2012 and 2014.
Image: Ariane flight VA209 delays launch of GSAT-10 and ASTRA 2F satellites due to small snag on the upper side of the rocket. Photo: courtesy of Arianespace.