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Ariane rocket set for launch

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An Ariane 5 rocket waits for launch on Wednesday  

KOUROU, French Guiana (CNN) -- The European Space Agency was scheduled to launch an Ariane 5 series rocket with two commercial satellites on Thursday.

Flight 140 is scheduled for liftoff at 5:51 p.m. EST, or 2251 GMT from Kourou, French Guiana.

The rocket will carry two satellites, Eurobird for satellite operator Eutelsat, and BSAT-2a for Orbital Sciences Corporation. The BSAT-2a will provide digital high definition television in Japan.

The Eurobird will ride in the upper payload position and will be released first, with separation about 29 minutes after liftoff.

In a mission on February 7, an Ariane rocket successfully placed two military communications satellites in orbit, in what was seen as an important milestone for ESA.

It was the first time two such satellites had been carried on a single Ariane.

That launch involved an Ariane 44L rocket -- the most powerful version of the Ariane-4 series.

Arianespace, the commercial arm of the 13-nation ESA, said it has orders to launch a total of 46 satellites and automated transfer vehicles for the international space station.



RELATED STORIES:
Successful mission for Ariane
February 8, 2001
Blast-offs mark European space boom
November 16, 2000
Europe launches 100th Ariane mission
October 29, 2000

RELATED SITES:
Arianespace
Orbital.com - BSAT-2a Mission
Eutelsat - Eurobird

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