Image: Ariane 5 rocket launch
Baudon  /  AFP - Getty Images
A European Ariane 5 heavy-lift rocket takes off from its French Guiana launch pad Wednesday, carrying two satellites into orbit.
updated 11/14/2007 8:34:36 PM ET 2007-11-15T01:34:36

A European rocket loaded with two satellites blasted off Wednesday evening from a launch pad in South America despite partially cloudy conditions at liftoff.

The Ariane 5 rocket took off from the Kourou launch center and cruised through a deck of broken, low clouds powered by two boosters and its cryogenic main engine, according to a statement from Arianespace, the commercial arm of the 13-country European Space Agency that organized the launch.

The rocket carried a Brazilian telecommunications satellite and a British national security satellite, which will handle secure communications for the U.K. military, the launch services company said.

The blastoff, originally scheduled for last Friday, was postponed following an electrical problem with one of the rocket's two boosters.

Tracking cameras followed the rocket's trajectory on Wednesday, filming its boosters' release at an altitude of about 65 kilometers (40 miles).

Britain's Skynet 5B was deployed about 27 minutes into the mission, and Brazil's Star One C1 was released about six minutes later, Arianespace said.

The launch marked the fifth Ariane 5 dual-satellite success for 2007, Arianespace said.

"Since the beginnning of 2007, 12 large commercial communications satellites have been launched [worldwide], and we launched 10 of them," the venture's chairman and chief executive officer, Jean-Yves Le Gall, said in the post-launch statement.

This report was supplemented by

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