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European rocket launches Earth-observing satellite

April 3, 2014

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — The space consortium Arianespace has successfully launched a rocket that lofted the first Earth-observation satellite for a new European project.

The Sentinel-1A satellite was launched into orbit by a Soyuz rocket on Thursday evening from a spaceport in French Guiana. The rocket’s flight lasted 23 minutes.

It’s the first of six satellites to be orbited for Copernicus, a program of the European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency.

The Copernicus program aims to create a European satellite network to collect and evaluate environmental data for civil safety and humanitarian purposes. Officials say it will provide important data about matters such as climate change, agriculture and natural disasters.

The next Sentinel is due to be launched next year. The polar-orbiting satellites will use radar that can see through clouds.

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