Europe delays launch of space station robot freighter

A technical snag has delayed the scheduled launch of an Ariane rocket carrying supplies to the ISS.

Last Updated: Feb 16, 2011, 09:23 AM IST

Kourou(French Guiana): An European rocket poised to lift a 20-tonne automated supply ship into space was delayed minutes before scheduled lift off, launch operator Arianespace said.
The Ariane 5 mission was to have hoisted the European Space Agency`s second Automated Transfer Vehicle yesterday toward a rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS).

Another attempt will likely be made today, Arianespace Chairman Jean-Yves Le Gall said from the launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, via an Internet videocast immediately after the aborted lift-off.

"There`s a 90-per cent chance we`ll try again tomorrow," Le Gall later told journalists.

The mission was halted when a red warning light indicated a problem the fueling system.

Designed to supply mankind`s nearly 400-tonne outpost in orbit, the Johannes Kepler -- the largest payload ever taken aloft by the ESA -- will bring water, air, food, spare parts and experimental hardware to the ISS.

If successful, the launch will be the 200th in the European space programme.

PTI