An Ariane-5 rocket blasted off from Europe's space base in French Guiana on Monday, putting into orbit satellites for the Arab League and a U.S.-linked telecommunications firm, officials said.
Twenty-seven minutes after its launch from the Kourou base, the rocket released ProtoStar-1 -- the first satellite for the new U.S.-based telecommunications company ProtoStar.
The satellite, built in Palo Alto, California by Space Systems/Loral, will help to provide direct-to-home television transmissions and broadband services throughout Southeast Asia.
Eight minutes later, the rocket released a BADR-6 satellite for Arabsat, the 21-nation telecommunications group of the Arab League, that is designed for direct television broadcasting to the Middle East and North Africa.
In a Web broadcast from Paris, Arabsat president Khalid Balkeyour said: "Arabsat ... operates under the umbrella of the Arab League. Our strategy in the next four years is to launch a satellite every year. This will enhance our capacity in space."
The BADR-6 was built jointly by Astrium, satellite manufacturing unit of European aerospace company EADS, and Franco-Italian consortium Thales Alenia Space.