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Ariane 5 lifts off two satellites from French Guiana

(Xinhua)

10:53, September 22, 2011

PARIS, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- European heavy-lift launcher Ariane 5 lifted off two communication satellites Wednesday from the Kourou launch centre in French Guiana, live broadcast of the launching process showed.

The rocket, carrying the two communication satellites Arabsat 5C and SES-2, was launched at GMT 2138.

This was the fifth heavy-lift mission of Ariane 5 in 2011. Arianespace had planned six Ariane 5 missions through 2011.

The satellite Arabsat-5C was developed for the Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat) to provide satellite capacity in both C-band and Ka-band frequencies for a wide range of communications services.

Jointly produced by Europe's EADS Astrium and Thales Alenia Space, it will be positioned at 20 degree East orbital location to cover the Middle East and Africa.

Manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corporation of the United States, SES-2 will join the fleet of European satellite telecommunications operator SES, and is to be positioned at 87 degree West for coverage over North America and the Caribbean.

Both Arabsat-5C and SES-2 have life-spans as long as 15 years.

This Ariane 5 dual-passenger mission was postponed from Tuesday due to local strikes of French Guiana workers.

Founded in 1980 as the world's first launch service and solutions company, Arianespace planned to achieve six Ariane 5 missions through 2011. Through 2010, heavy-lift workhorse Ariane 5 finished six missions, sending a dozen spacecraft into expected orbits.

The next mission from Arianespace centre in Kourou was scheduled for Oct. 20 by medium-lift vehicle Soyuz. It will be Soyuz' first mission from French Guiana with a pair of satellites for Europe's Galileo satellite navigation system.

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