Following a one month loss of launch capability, from Spaceflight Now, April 25, 2017; Operations resume at European-run launch base in French Guiana:

Protest leaders demanded more 3 billion euros (USD 3.3 billion) in emergency funding to improve conditions in French Guiana. The final agreement signed Friday calls for 1.1 billion euros (USD 1.2 billion) of immediate aid, and a “priority review” of another 2.1 billion euro (USD 2.3 billion) funding package.

After one or two re-schedulings, Arianespace has postponed the launch of Flight VA236 with SGDC and KOREASAT-7 "indefinitely". The rocket is blocked from rolling out to the launchpad a roadblock as part of a protest.

According to the BBC's news item Spaceport protest delays rocket launch in French Guiana:

The Ariane 5 rocket was due to take a South Korean satellite and a Brazilian satellite into orbit later on Tuesday.

But the booster could not be rolled to the launch pad because of the protest at the Guiana Space Center over what workers for energy company EDF said were "deplorable working conditions".

The launch has been moved to Wednesday.

Workers used tyres and wooden pallets to erect barricades at the facility in French Guiana.

The article goes on to say:

Workers used tyres and wooden pallets to erect barricades at the facility in French Guiana.

Satellite launch company Arianespace said in a statement that "due to a social movement, it was not possible to carry out today's [Monday's] scheduled transfer of the launch vehicle from the Spaceport's Final Assembly Building to the launch zone."

It said that the launch vehicle, as well as the satellites had been "placed in a stand-by mode and are being maintained in fully safe conditions".

And finally, it says:

It is not the first time industrial action has delayed a launch at the Kourou Space Centre.

In 2011, another Ariane 5 rocket launch had to be moved back when workers demanded extra pay for working on Sundays.

Further information can be found in Spaceflight Now's Launches from Kourou temporarily suspended by social unrest

Question: Are these the only two example of launches to space that have been substantially delayed by protests physically present at the launch site? If not, what are the other cases - how often does such a thing happen?

Background on the most recent protest:

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above: "A barricade outside the Guiana Space Center. Credit: France Guyane" From here.

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above: "An Ariane 5 rocket sits on the launch pad at the Kourou Space Center in French Guiana", from here.

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above: French Guiana, north-east coast, South America. from here, credit: Ouest-France.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ There was a strike in 2007 at Kennedy Space Center. It seemed to be more of a "gentlemen's agreement" really. When entering the center in support of crew training during the strike, we were directed to use only one certain gate to get onsite. There were a few people there at the gate sitting down with signs stuck in the ground. If there was any schedule impact, it wasn't obvious. goiam.org/press-releases/… $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 28, 2017 at 2:21
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ In 1983-84 there were a series of large protests at Vandenberg against MX missile tests. Lots of people got into restricted areas, lots of arrests. Launches were certainly delayed, but given the almost-continuous nature of the protest it isn't clear whether the protests caused those, or they were due to the nature of test program operations. Lots of claims with both signs on both sides. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 0:24
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    $\begingroup$ @BobJacobsen Yes, now I remember the news. Now I've just asked How rare is it in the 21st century to use five stages to get to LEO, especially for a low-mass payload? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jul 18, 2018 at 2:24
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    $\begingroup$ To add precisions, 3 launches where postponed because of the 2017 protest. I could fine only 2 other strikes affecting Kourou's operations; only one of them delayed a launch by one day in 2011: lemonde.fr/societe/article/2011/09/20/… $\endgroup$
    – Antzi
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 2:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Antzi I don't have enough familiarity with the topic, but if you'd like please feel free to edit the question if there's anything helpful to add there or amendments or corrections. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Oct 17, 2018 at 7:10

1 Answer 1


I think that in the American program NASA the area around the launch site and the build-up areas are very secured areas and no access is permitted. Any intrusion into these areas is dealt with as trespassing on government property. I again called my retired NASA friend and he did speak of a few labor union strikes and he affirmed the above gentleman's account of a very respectful picket line that was very controlled and the respectful kind of tongue and cheek. He said that NASA supervisors would even bring cold drinks and cookies as a gestor of support. These are for civilian launches. Most military launches have even tighter security

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer and welcome to Space! I think that due to the nature of this particular question, anecdotal answers will have to do. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 23:49

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