SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Gamma Blast, Nebula Dust, More

SPACE PHOTOS THIS WEEK: Gamma Blast, Nebula Dust, More
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Kourou, French Guiana, February 12, 2009--Carrying a telecommunications satellite named Hot Bird and looking like a phoenix, the first Ariane 5 rocket launched in 2009 soars over the Guiana Space Center. Intended as launch vehicles for Europe's canceled space shuttle program, Ariane 5's are used mainly to deliver satellites and experiments to relatively low orbits.

Chosen for its proximity to the Equator--ideal for launches into satellite orbits--South America's French Guiana, officially part of France, has been home to "Europe's spaceport" since 1975.

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— Photograph courtesy ESA-CNES-ARIANESPACE
 
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