Image: Ariane launch
Arianespace / ESA
An Ariane 5 launch vehicle lifts off from the European Space Agency's launch pad in French Guiana on Thursday, carrying two satellites into orbit.
updated 10/14/2005 10:05:13 PM ET 2005-10-15T02:05:13

An Ariane 5 rocket blasted off Thursday evening from a launch pad in South America, carrying a French military satellite and a U.S. telecommunications satellite into orbit.

The European rocket could be seen for miles in the clear skies as it took off from the Kourou launch center in French Guiana at 7:32 p.m. local time (6:32 p.m. ET). It was the third mission for an Ariane 5 this year.

The craft carried France's Syracuse 3A military communications satellite and PanAmSat's Galaxy 15, designed to last 15 years and broadcast digital video, high-definition television and video on demand to the United States.

The satellites were deployed in orbit a little more than a half-hour after liftoff from Kourou, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) from Cayenne, French Guiana's capital.

The launch marked the 167th Ariane mission since the European launcher first began operating in 1979. Arianespace is the commercial arm of the 13-country European Space Agency.

Takeoff was initially planned for late September but was delayed after scientists discovered an anomaly in one of the rocket components.

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