A new European-made lightweight rocket has blasted off on a mission to put nine satellites into orbit.
The rocket, called Vega, was launched on February 13 on its inaugural flight from the European Space Agency's launch site in Kourou, French Guiana, on the northeast coast of South America.
It was scheduled to release nine satellites into orbit, from Italy and European universities.
The Vega, which can carry payloads of up to 2,500 kilograms, is seeking business in placing small satellites into orbit close to Earth.
It joins the heavy-duty Ariane 5 and the mid-size Russian-built Soyuz as vehicles available for launch from Guiana.
The Vega was developed by seven European countries at a cost of nearly 790 million euros ($1 billion).
Compiled from agency reports