Astra 2E satellite launch delayed again
The satellite was originally scheduled to be carried into space on the 21st July. The launch was delayed following a major incident at the launch site on the 1st July, when a Proton rocket carrying another load crashed following the incorrect installation of three yaw angular rate sensors located on the launch vehicle. Several senior members of staff were sacked following the incident.
After the all-clear was originally given in August, the satellite was set for a mid-September launch. According to media reports from Russia within the past 24 hours, the launch has now been postponed until an unknown future time. These reports blame technical issues for the further delay.
In addition to providing capacity to UK broadcasters, SES-owned Astra 2E will also carry additional data and TV services for parts of Europe and the Middle East. It will be equipped with a similar UK spotbeam to the one used by Astra 2F, which led to numerous viewers in continental Europe losing access to some UK free-to-air channels, including Channel 5. These viewers have been given a bit more time to enjoy the remaining free-to-air UK TV channels still operating via Astra 1N, which will remain in situ until a replacement satellite takes its place.