Updated Version of Ariane 5 Fails on Maiden Flight

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Today's maiden flight of the updated version of the Ariane 5 failed shortly after takeoff. Flight 157 was to have placed two satellite payloads into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

The flight was to demonstrate the Ariane 5's capability to pair up all types of spacecraft for efficient dual launches. The first satellite that would have been deployed was the Eutelsat HOT BIRDTM 7 TV broadcast platform, followed minutes later by the French CNES space agency's STENTOR telecom demonstrator spacecraft.

The Ariane 5 used for today's mission is the first launcher with a 10-ton payload lift capacity to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

Arianespace CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall said it was too soon to give an explenation of the failure. A press conference is scheduled for 8 a.m. EST tomorrow.


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