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Ariane 5 blasts European satellites into orbit

Latest update : 2008-06-14

The European consortium Arianespace launched a Turkish telecommunications satellite and a British military satellite into orbit in the 25th successful mission for the Ariane 5 rocket.

An Ariane 5 rocket put a British military satellite and a Turkish telecommunications satellite into orbit on Thursday, European space officials said.

The rocket blasted off from Europe's space base in Kourou in French Guiana on the northeast coast of South America.

Twenty-seven minutes after the launch, the rocket released a Skynet 5C satellite for Britain's Defence Ministry.

Built by EADS Astrium, the satellite manufacturing division of European aerospace company EADS, Skynet would provide high-bandwidth communications for British and "friendly" forces across the world, the Defence Ministry said.

Five minutes later, the rocket released a Turksat 3A satellite designed to enable Turkish telecoms operator Turksat
to deliver communications services to Europe, Turkey and Central Asia.

Turksat was built by the Franco-Italian consortium Thales Alenia Space.

Thursday's launch was the 25th consecutive successful mission by Ariane 5 rockets, Arianespace president Jean-Yves Le Gall told reporters.

"In our commercial strategy this is very important," Le Gall said.

Arianespace, 30 percent owned by EADS, plans to launch Russian Soyuz rockets from 2009 in an effort to maintain its lead in the commercial satellite launch market.

Billed as a cost effective launcher for large satellites, the Ariane 5 is capable of launching payloads of up to 10 tonnes.

Date created : 2008-06-13