Space: December 14, 2002


An Ariane 5 satellite booster failed three minutes into a launch. The rocket, two satellites, and $600 million was destroyed. Out of 14 launches, this is the fourth failure, giving the Ariane 5 a low 71 percent success rate. In the very competitive satellite launch business, this is a major problem for the European Space Agency and it' s Kourou base in French Guiana. Insurance rates will go up for Ariane 5 launches until they boost their success rate considerably. Competition fro cheaper Russian and Chinese launch services will make it difficult even for European satellite owners to justify using the Ariane 5. The latest version of the Ariane 5 had it's launch capability increased from six to ten tons.


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