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Ariane 5 rocket assembled for launch

Posted: May 19, 2011

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An Ariane 5 rocket is scheduled to blast off Friday with two satellites to provide direct television broadcasting and navigation services. Liftoff is set for 2038 GMT (4:38 p.m. EDT) from Kourou, French Guiana.

The ST 2 communications satellite will ride in the Ariane 5 rocket's upper position. Once in its final orbit, ST 2 will provide Internet and television programming for broadcasters and maritime operators in Asia and the Middle East.

Bolted in the lower part of the rocket's payload fairing, GSAT 8 carries communications transponders and a navigation instrument for the Indian Space Research Organization.

These images show the assembly of the Ariane 5 rocket over the last three months, culminating in the rollout of the 16-story booster to the launch pad Thursday.

Photo credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace