Wednesday, October 21, 1998 Published at 19:18 GMT 20:18 UK
Perfect blast-off for Ariane
Lift-off: Third time lucky
Europe's flagship space project is back on track after the successful launch of the third Ariane-5 rocket.
This time there were only minor hitches. After two delays in the countdown, the rocket blasted off from Kourou in French Guyana at 1338 local time (1638 GMT).
Confirming Ariane 5's capacity to lob satellites into orbit at an altitude of 1,500 kms (932 miles) was a prime goal of this test mission.
The French President Jacques Chirac congratulated all involved in the successful test of what will now be Europe's new satellite launcher.
The European Space Agency 's new-generation rocket, capable of carrying six tons of equipment into space, has been dogged by technical problems and delays.
A second Ariane-5 flight in October 1997 restored a certain measure of confidence to the 10-year, $10bn programme, although the payload found the wrong orbit.
The third launch was the last before commercial satellites are put into orbit next year.
The rocket is crucial to the European space programme's credibility, not least because it wants to use Ariane to ferry astronauts from the new International Space Station.