PARIS (AP) _ A European Ariane rocket will launch an American and a French satellite into orbit next month from the program's French Guiana space center, the commercial arm of the European Space Agency announced.

The March 11 launch from the South American base is to be Ariane's 21st and the first of eight planned for this year.

It is to lift the American Spacenet 3-R satellite and the French Telecom 1C into orbit, Arianespace said in its announcement Friday.

The 20th Ariane shot on Nov. 20 placed the West German satellite TV-SAT1 into orbit. The launch was flawless, but one of the satellite's solar panels failed to deploy and it has not been able to carry out its function of direct television broadcasts.

The U.S. space shuttle program was suspended after the January 1986 Challenger disaster, making the Ariane program the West's only regular vehicle for the lucrative satellite-launching market.