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Ariane 5 Nearly Ready For Blastoff

Launch Scheduled Before December 21

Representatives from French Aerospace manufacturer Arianespace tell ANN the final Ariane 5 flight of the year is almost ready to send its cargo into orbit, as the mission has entered the final preparation phase at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

Both of the Ariane 5's two satellites have been integrated with the rocket, according to Arianespace. India's INSAT-4A has been placed in the upper payload space and has been encapsulated in the rocket's payload fairing, while Europe's MSG-2 weather satellite was installed in the lower payload position.

The last Ariane 5 launch was the record-breaking flight of an ECA booster last month, which deployed two satellites weighing a combined 17,500 lbs. into orbit. As was reported in Aero-News, the Boeing-built Spaceway 2 satellite and Indonesia's Telkom 2 telecommunications satellite were safely released into preliminary orbits within 45 minutes after launch.

Liftoff for this final Ariane 5 mission of 2005 is set during a launch window that opens at 7:33 p.m. local time at the Spaceport and continues through 8:01 p.m. on December 21.

FMI: www.arianespace.com

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