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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 May 2006, 23:49 GMT 00:49 UK
Ariane lifts record dual payload
Ariane 5-ECA launch (AFP)
The ECA flies high from Kourou
Europe's Ariane 5-ECA rocket has set a new record for a commercial, dual-payload satellite launch.

Saturday's flight lofted the Thaicom 5 and Satmex 6 spacecraft - a combined mass of 8.2 tonnes.

The launch marked the Ariane 5's second flight this year and only the fifth in its heavy-lift configuration.

The ECA has the power to push payloads of 10 tonnes towards a geostationary orbit, 36,000km above the Earth.

Lift-off occurred without any delay at 1809 local time (2109 GMT).

The 5,456-kg Satmex spacecraft will deliver telecommunications coverage over the continental United States, Mexico and South America.

The 2,766-kg Thaicom 5 will provide telecom and TV services for the entire Asia-Pacific region.

Arianespace, the company tasked with operating Europe's rockets, has now launched more than 230 satellites since its first Ariane mission in 1984.

It expects to carry out four more launches this year.

Fourth flight for biggest Ariane
12 Mar 06 |  Science/Nature
Heavy-lift Ariane flies skyward
16 Nov 05 |  Science/Nature
Q&A: Jean-Yves Le Gall
30 Nov 04 |  Science/Nature
Europe's super-rocket rides high
12 Feb 05 |  Science/Nature
Clawing back demand for satellites
26 Dec 04 |  Science/Nature

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