New Ariane 5 ECA rocket launch a success

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Sunday, February 13, 2005

The European Space Agency's new Ariane 5 ECA rocket placed two satellites in orbit Saturday February 12, successfully completing its initial qualifying flight. The Ariane 5 ECA is to be the ESA's new workhorse launcher for injecting payloads into geostationary orbit.

Launched from the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, the new rocket design carried three payloads: the X-TAR-EUR communications satellite, the Sloshsat FLEVO[1] experimental satellite, and the Maqsat B2 which remained attached to the Ariane upper stage.

The Ariane ECA can carry up to ten tons of payload improving on the launch capacity of the Ariane 5 Generic by 4 tonnes.

This launch was the second test for the new design following a launch failure in December 2002.