Journalist Chris Forrester has filed a report at the Advanced Television infosite that Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) have stated that their plans for the debut flight of the all-new Ariane 6 launch rocket have slipped into 2021.
Ariane 6 is the long-awaited replacement for the aging Ariane 5 rocket, and planned to be a valid financial competitor to SpaceX.
The pre-virus expectation was that the maiden flight would happen during Q4 this year. However, the widespread impact of the virus affected production of the rocket, its engines and right down the supply chain. It is also understood that work at the Kourou launch site is also well behind schedule.
ESA now says it is evaluating the impact of the pandemic and how the delays will impact the debut flight and subsequent commercial flights.
OneWeb, now in bankruptcy, had booked the Ariane 6 maiden flight to carry 30 of its LEO satellites. Reports suggest that the lack of a commercial payload will also delay the launch.
Also of interest is that London-based satellite operator Avanti Communications is supplying capacity on its Hylas 4 craft to Niger.
An Avanti statement said, “As the world seeks to stay connected from behind closed doors, satellite connectivity is playing an important role in guaranteeing secure and reliable communication for government bodies, first aid responders and health organizations. Using Hylas 4 capacity, Avanti is providing satellite connectivity and equipment to 10 government sites across the country, keeping lines of communication open for key government bodies in Niger. Avanti are collaborating with the National Agency of Information Society (ANSI), the technical arm of the government of Niger responsible for coordinating ICT solutions in the Covid-19 response in Niger.”
Avanti set up its first site as part of the scheme on April 15th and the remaining 9 will be installed within the next few weeks.
Avanti CEO, Kyle Whitehill, commented, “At Avanti, we are deeply concerned about the spread of the pandemic and we want to help in any way we can. The telecommunications industry has an important role to play in this global crisis and we are privileged to be able to use our satellite technology to support the Niger Government in its initiative to fight Covid-19.”
ANSI CEO, Ibrahima Guimba-Saïdou, added, “In Niger, we are levering all aspects of ICT in our fight against Covid-19. As such assuring good availability and good connectivity at our strategic locations is mandatory. The Avanti VSATs are reinforcing our technical capabilities.”