After a 24 hour technical delay the Ariane-5 space rocket has finally lifted off from its launch pad in French Guyana. The rocket is carrying a Skynet 5 satellite for the British Military, billed by experts as the most sophisticated technology of its type. Built by a subsidiary of Europe’s EADS, Skynet is the first of a three satellite system providing state of the art monitoring and information for the UK Army, Navy and Air Force. It is five times more powerful than its predecessor.
Skynet was released from the Ariane rocket 30 minutes into the flight. It will take around a week to settle into its final geostationary orbit. All three satellites should be in place and operating by the end of 2008. Skynet’s co-passenger on the flight, the Indian television satellite Insat 4B, was also successfully launched.