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News In Brief

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.

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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.