Kourou, French Guiana
European rocket firing bids for commercial stake
The 11-nation European Space Agency served notice Wednesday that it was ready to challenge the United States in the booming commercial space market with the successful firing of its Ariane rocket.
After a 51-minute delay caused by a faulty sensor, Ariane L-7 blasted off from its jungle base here. It put a communications satellite into orbit for the Washington-based International Communications Satellite Organization (Intelsat). Business prospects look good for Arianespace, which markets the rocket's potential as a commercial carriers. Twenty-six companies have already placed $ 750 million in orders involving the more powerful Ariane 2 and 3, which are due to be launched next year.