Communications satellite blasts into orbit on ESA rocket
An Ariane rocket lifts off carrying a communications satellite for a private communications company on Monday
January 24, 2000
Web posted at: 8:46 p.m. EST (0146 GMT)
KOUROU, French Guiana (CNN) -- Highlighting a shift from the struggling U.S. rocket fleet, a private communications company relied on the commercial arm of the European Space Agency to launch a communications satellite on Monday.
The Galaxy XR satellite will provide cable television and Internet services to customers worldwide from stationary orbit above Earth. It blasted into space around 8:15 p.m. EST atop an Arianespace rocket from the ESA launch center in Kourou, French Guiana.
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The launch comes 17 months after the crash of a Delta rocket carrying the Galaxy X, a predecessor satellite also built by the PanAmSat Corp, based in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Private companies have scrambled to find ways to place satellites in orbit after technical problems and crashes grounded key U.S. rockets like the Delta 3s and Titan 4s in 1999. Mostly they have turned to Europe.
Currently more than 50 percent of all private rocket missions launch from the ESA spaceport, located on the northeast coast of South America. In 1999, Arianespace won some 80 percent of the commercial launch for geostationary satellites. Last year also marked the 51st consecutive launch success for Arianespace.
Arianespace expects to launch approximately 16 satellites aboard Ariane 4s or the more powerful Ariane 5s from French Guiana in 2000.
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