The much delayed first fully commercial launch of the Ariane 5 will take place on 8 July at the earliest, according to Arianespace. Ariane 504 will carry the Asiastar and Telkom satellites for WorldSpace and Indonesia, respectively.

Ariane 504 was delayed from late last year by the failure of Aerospatiale to deliver its Eutelsat W4 satellite, originally meant for the mission. The rescheduled March launch was delayed by the late delivery of Matra Marconi Space's (MMS) Asiastar.

Arianespace has been frustrated by satellite delivery delays. It has only launched two Ariane 4 missions so far this year, but is aiming to launch seven more Ariane 4s and three Ariane 5s before the end of December.

Ariane 505 is to carry Eutelsat's W4 satellite and India's Insat 3B in mid-October, while the 506 in December will carry the European Space Agency's X-ray Multi Mirror space telescope.

The next Ariane 4 launch, scheduled for early June, is due to carry the MMS-built K-TV spacecraft for Intelsat.

Source: Flight International