A towering French Ariane 4 rocket hurled two communications satellites into orbit Saturday, 24 hours late, in a record launch marking the commercial debut of Europe's most powerful rocket.

The 195-foot Ariane 4, equipped with four strap-on boosters for extra launch power, was launched Saturday nightfrom the European Space Agency's jungle launch complex in South America.Frederic d'Allest, president of Arianespace, the European consortium that markets Ariane boosters, said the launch of two satellites set a record in the international commercial launch market.