Delayed Ariane rocket launch set for Wednesday

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KOUROU, French Guiana, Nov 14 (Reuters) An Ariane rocket carrying satellites for the British military and a Brazilian firm will be launched late today from French Guiana following two delays due to technical problems, the Arianespace rocket launch company said.

A first launch attempt scheduled for November 9 was cancelled several hours before scheduled lift-off when a problem in one of the rocket's solid fuel boosters was detected.

Rescheduled for Monday, that launch attempt was also stopped when new technical problems arose.

Arianespace's president, Jean-Yves Le Gall, explained that Monday's aborted launch was due to water penetrating into the rocket's hydrogen tank filter.

''All traces of water must be removed from the filter and we will be able to launch on Wednesday,'' Le Gall said.

Arianespace has not yet announced the exact time for Wednesday's new launch attempt from its launch site in Kourou, on the northeast coast of South America. Specialists said it was likely to be scheduled for after 0330 IST.

The Ariane-5 heavy lift rocket will carry Skynet 5B a military communications for Britain's Ministry of Defence and Star One C1, a telecommunications satellite for Brazil's telecoms operator Embratel.

REUTERS ARB KN1446

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