INTRODUCTION: Western Europe's Ariane rocket was successfully launched into space on saturday (19 December) in a final before it is sold commercially in the fast expanding telecommunications and satellite market.
SV Marecs maritime spacecraft satellite at British Aerospace factory being tested. (2 SHOTS)
GV PAN TO Satellite technicians testing satellite.
CU Technicians working on satellite. (2 SHOTS)
FRENCH GUIANA: GV French technicians in control room. (2 SHOTS)
GV Ariane on launch pad with countdown.
GV Control room with applause PAN TO spacecraft separation chart as control room staff applaud.
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Western Europe's Ariane rocket was successfully launched into space on saturday (19 December) in a final before it is sold commercially in the fast expanding telecommunications and satellite market. The project is funded by the predominantly French Arianespace international consortium who already have firm contracts for 15 rockets. This last of four test flights put two Maritime European Communications Satellites into orbit. Known as Marecs-A, the major part of the satellite has been produced in Stevenage, England by the British Aerospace Company.
SYNOPSIS: The Marecs satellite has been designed to improve the reliability and quality of communications between shore stations and ships at sea. Next year it will go into service as part of the International Maritime Satellite Organisation's (INMARSAT) communications system for merchant shipping world-wide. The satellite components have undergone extensive testing at the British Aerospace plant and include a solar energy sensor disc.
The Ariane test programme, and the rush to orders for Ariane-launched satellite systems, have demonstrated that Europe can compete effectively with the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the increasingly lucrative satellite market. Eleven European countries are involved in the venture.
Space experts from all eleven nations joined the French launch control team at the Kourou space centre in French Guiana. The 46-metre white and brown rocket had a trouble-free countdown.
Ariane blasted off into the tropical rain clouds exactly on schedule and rose effortlessly into the night sky with the hopes of the European space industry resting on the success of the mission. Remembering a previous failure of the rocket, the launch control staff kept quiet until the first stage separation of the craft had been completed.
Then they burst into relieved applause as the satellite entered the earth's orbit. Workers at the space centre, situated in the French territory on the north east coast of South America, should have much more to cheer over the next few months if the success of the Ariane launch is projected into further orders.