Arianespace announced on September 16 that it has signed a contract with the operator Hisdesat for launch of Spainsat, Spain's first military telecommunications satellite. The Spainsat satellite will be launched by an Ariane-5 rocket in 2004 from the Kourou space centre in Guyana, according to a statement issued by the company responsible for the management and marketing of European launchers. The European launcher was chosen in preference to the Atlas rocket of Arianespace's American rival ILS. "Whilst the choice of a European launcher by a European company may appear natural, the choice is above all based on quality", according to Hisdesat Managing Director Jose Maria Hoyos Fernandez. Spainsat is the first Spanish satellite dedicated to secure government communications...

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