A French-built Ariane-2 rocket successfully hurled a $40 million Intelsat communications satellite into orbit Thursday, chalking up the European program's 28th launch and its 10th straight success since 1986.

With invited NASA officials looking on, the 162-foot three-stage rocket roared to life at 8:21 p.m. EST - 53 minutes behind schedule because of a technical glitch - and quickly climbed away from the European Space Agency's jungle launch complex on the northern coast of South America.Eighteen-and-a-half minutes later, the Intelsat-5 satellite was safely kicked away from the Ariane's spent third stage into a preliminary egg-shaped "transfer" orbit.