The European Space Agency blasted an Ariane 4 rocket carrying a U.S. telecommunications satellite into space Saturday, less than two weeks after a more advanced model exploded after liftoff.
The smooth takeoff at 2:55 a.m. EDT followed a two-day delay so that technicians could double-check the rocket’s computers.
An Ariane 5 rocket exploded seconds into its maiden voyage June 4, destroying four research satellites. Investigators said an on-board computer threw the rocket off trajectory just after takeoff from French Guiana on the northeast coast of South America.
The Ariane 5 took 10 years and $7 billion to develop. Its failed flight was a major setback for Arianespace, the European Space Agency’s commercial satellite-launch arm.
Saturday’s launch was the 87th in a series of commercial launches by Ariane 4, the company’s more conventional rocket, and the sixth this year.
It placed an Intelsat 709 satellite into orbit over the Atlantic Ocean, from where it will ensure transmission of 90,000 two-way telephone circuits and three television channels during its 14-year lifespan.
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