Technical problem forces delay of European rocket launch 2006-02-22 13:55:30

PARIS, Feb. 21 (Xinhuanet) — The scheduled launch of Ariane 5 ECArocket from the Kourou complex in French Guiana at 2300 GMT Tuesday was postponed due to technical problems, European space officials said Tuesday.

The deferment was decided after a problem was found with the gas which is used to keep the ground equipment cool before the launch, said a spokesman for Arianespace, a profit-making subsidiary of the 13-country European Space Agency (ESA).

The Ariane 5 ECA, a heavy-duty version of ESA Ariane 5 series, has two satellites to be sent into space: one for Paris-based Eutelsat Communications SA and the other for the Spanish Defense Ministry, said Arianespace in a news release.

The 4.1-ton Hot Bird 7A Satellite, built by France-based Alcatel Alenia Space for Eutelsat Communications, has the capacity of transmitting 850 television channels and 550 radio channels, covering a population of 110 million from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The Spainsat satellite built by the U.S.-based Space Systems/Lora weighs 3.7 tons. It was designed to help the Spanish government enhance communications for both military and civilian purposes, Spanish defense officials said.

The delayed launch was to be the first flight for Ariane 5 in 2006, and five or six launches still await the rocket for the year in Arianespace’s arrangement, the European launcher said. Enditem

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