Literally seconds from lift-off, the New Dawn satellite launch has been aborted.
The Ariane 5 launch vehicle – having successfully launched 42 consecutives satellites into space – had already been counted down to zero and commenced its lift-off procedures when power was switched off and the launch stopped.
ArianeSpace spokesman Jean-Yves Le Gal explains that the cryogenic engines were started as part of the normal lift-off procedure.
However, routine tests carried out automatically during the first seven seconds of the actual launch "failed to return conclusive results", so the solid booster engines were not engaged and the launch was abandoned.
Le Gal assured visitors and media that the payload is undamaged and will be launched once the Ariane 5 has been checked and any necessary repairs made.
"We will now test and see what took place," he said. "We will not take any risks, but will check what happened and report back within a few hours.
This is the second postponement of the Intelsat New Dawn satellite, which was initially scheduled to be put into orbit yesterday. Intelsat has issued a statement confirming that the Intelsat New Dawn satellite is secure but that its launch aboard an Ariane 5 rocket, initially scheduled for launch on 30 March 2011, was scrubbed after the launch sequence was shut down automatically. Arianespace will review the data and make another launch attempt at a later date. Initially announced in December 2008, the $250-million Intelsat New Dawn project is funded approximately 15% with equity and 85% with debt. African institutions are providing approximately 90% of the total financing required for the joint venture and Intelsat will contribute the balance. Nedbank Capital, part of the Nedbank Group, has arranged the non-recourse debt financing. A consortium of lenders including Nedbank, the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa and the African Development Bank will provide the debt funding. The equity is provided by Intelsat (74,9%) and the Convergence Partners-led group (25,1%), which also includes Altirah Telecoms and the not-forprofit Convergence Partners Foundation.