KOUROU, French Guiana, Mar 11 (Reuters) A heavy-lift version of Europe's Ariane-5 rocket series has been successfully placed into orbit two communications satellites after a launch from French Guiana on Saturday.
The rocket launched yesteday, capable of launching satellite payloads of up to 10 metric tonnes, orbited Spainsat, a Spanish military communications satellite, and Hot Bird 7A for Paris-based telecoms operator Eutelsat , space officials said.
Initially scheduled for launch in February, the mission was scrubbed on three separate occasions because of technical problems.
The maiden flight of the heavy-lift version of the Ariane-5 rocket ended in disaster in 2002 when it veered off course over the Atlantic Ocean. After modifications, the rocket was successfully launched twice in 2005.
The Arianespace rocket launch company is marketing the heavy-lift Ariane-5 as a cost effective way of launch double satellite payloads.
Reuters OM VP0515