KOUROU, French Guiana — Mission controllers Wednesday night halted the 17th launching of Europe's Ariane rocket seconds before it was to blast off from a new launching pad and carry two satellites into orbit.
Officials at the French National Center for Space Studies said they will try again tonight or Friday to launch the rocket, scheduled to carry an American and a Brazilian satellite into orbit.
The officials said the rocket, Europe's competitor to the U.S. space shuttle, may face even longer delays.
The reason why the countdown was halted was uncertain. The countdown had been progressing smoothly before the unidentified problem arose.
The three-stage disposable rocket will carry into orbit a $64-million telecommunications satellite for a subsidiary of the U.S. company GTE Corp., and the $43-million Brasilsat-2 satellite, to be used by Brazil to route telephone calls, telex messages and television signals.
Both satellites were to be sent into geostationary orbits 22,500 miles above the earth.
4 Others Orbited
GTE-Spacenet has sent four other satellites into orbit by Ariane. Brasilsat-1 was also launched by the European rocket.
Arianespace, the Western European consortium building and marketing the unmanned rockets, said it could be able to launch rockets up to 10 times per year with the newest rocket model, Ariane III.