A late afternoon launch from French Guiana on Wednesday sent two communications satellites into orbit aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket for the Australian and Indian governments.
Still and video imagery recorded the powerful 18-story rocket taking off from the tropical space base and climbing into a mostly clear sky on top of 2.9 million pounds of thrust.
Powered by a hydrogen-fueled Vulcain 2 main engine and two solid rocket boosters, the Ariane 5 blasted off from the ELA-3 launch pad at the Guiana Space Center on the northern coast of South America at 2030 GMT (4:30 p.m. EDT; 5:30 p.m. French Guiana time) Wednesday.
Its payloads were Sky Muster 2 and GSAT 18, satellites to connect rural Australian homes and businesses with broadband Internet and replace aging geostationary platforms beaming television and data services across India.
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