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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 December 2007, 00:51 GMT
Ariane rocket ends 2007 on high
Ariane 5 rocket launch on 21 December 2007
The next Ariane launch will take place after February
Europe's Ariane 5 rocket has completed its sixth and final flight of 2007.

The vehicle, launched from Kourou in French Guiana, lofted two satellites with a combined mass of 5.5 tonnes.

The RASCOM-QAF1 spacecraft will deliver TV and other telecom services to Africa while the Horizons-2 platform will do the same for North America.

Rocket operator Arianespace has a large order book and is ramping up its launch programme, with the aim of flying seven to eight Ariane 5s annually.

Highlights in the coming year include the launch of the European Space Agency's Planck and Herschel orbiting telescopes; and the third and final satellite in the UK's biggest space project, its Skynet military communications system.

But the main event will be the lofting of the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), the new supply vessel for the International Space Station.

The flight will require the Ariane 5 vehicle to lift 20 tonnes into a low-Earth orbit, a task the rocket has never before undertaken.

The launch is timed for no earlier than February.



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