December 30, 2010

ESA’s Ariane-5 Rocket Successfully Launches

Twenty-four hours after its scheduled launch was delayed due to high winds, the Ariane-5 European heavy-lift rocket successfully launched from a spaceport in French Guiana on Wednesday.

"It's the 41st consecutive success of Ariane 5 and in 2010 we will have launched a total of 12 large telecommunications satellites out of a world total of 20," Jean-Yves Le Gall, chairman and CEO of the rocket's operator, Arianespace, told BBC News Science Correspondent Jonathan Amos. "This gives us a market share of 60%."

The rocket, which blasted off at 6:27pm Eastern time from the European Space Agency (ESA) site in Kourou, carried a payload that included the Spanish telecom satellite Hispasat 1E and South Korean telecom satellite Koreasat 6, Franck Leconte of Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The Hispasat satellite, which was built in the US by Space Systems/Loral, will provide television and data services for the company of the same name, while Korea Telecom will use Koreasat 6 to offer telecommunications services throughout Korea and in neighboring nations, Leconte added.

The mission marked the sixth and final for an Ariane rocket in 2010, and according to Amos, the first mission the vehicle will face next year will be a trip to the International Space Station (ISS) to deliver supplies and place a 20-ton space freighter into low-Earth Orbit. That mission, according to BBC News, is currently set to take place on February 15, 2011.

The Ariane project, which initially got underway in 1973, was named after a mythological character whose name is also used by the French to describe certain types of hummingbird. The first successful launch of the current Ariane rocket, Ariane 5, came on October 30, 1997, after a failed blast off attempt in June 1996. The rockets are launched from French Guiana because it is believed that the location, near the equator, makes it easier to blast off into space.


Image Caption: On December 29 an Ariane 5 launcher lifted off from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana on a journey to place two telecommunications satellites, Hispasat-1E and Koreasat-6, into their planned transfer orbits. Flight V199 was the sixth Ariane 5 launch of 2010 and the last of the year. Credits: ESA / CNES / Arianespace / Photo Optique vid©o du CSG


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