Paris — An Ariane launcher carried two satellites into orbit in perfect form Thursday , reports Monitor contributor William Echikson. The French Ariane has experienced innumerable delays and two misfires in five previous test shots. European Space Agency officials admitted another mishap would have signaled the flameout of their effort to compete with the US shuttle for launch orders.
But the launch of the three-stage, unmanned rocket from the French Guiana space center went on just as scheduled. Not only did the suspect third-stage turbopump hold up, but also a new satellite-launching system worked flawlessly.