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Last Updated: Friday, 13 October 2006, 23:42 GMT 00:42 UK
Ariane rocket delivers satellites
Ariane rocket lifts off
The Ariane rocket took off from French Guiana
Europe's heavy-lift Ariane 5-ECA rocket has put three satellites in orbit.

Two of the satellites will transmit TV services to America and Australia. The third is a test platform for the Japanese space agency (Jaxa).

The flight from Kourou in French Guiana was the fourth mission of the year for the Ariane 5, which is operated by the Paris-based Arianespace company.

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

The total payload at lift-off for this flight was just short of the maximum for the 50m-long rocket.

The DIRECTV 9S satellite, for the US operator DIRECTV Incorporated, was the heaviest item at 5.5 tonnes; the OPTUS D1 spacecraft, for the Australian operator OPTUS, was 2.3 tonnes at launch; and the Japanese LDREX-2 experimental reflector had a lift-off mass of 211kg.

The latter was mounted to the base of the Ariane 5's payload "stack" and was a scale-model intended to test the design of a large deployable antenna that will be flown on a future Jaxa mission.

The ECA left Kourou at 1756 local time (2056 GMT).

Ariane lifts record dual payload
27 May 06 |  Science/Nature
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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