CAYENNE, French Guiana (Reuters) – A European Ariane rocket launched a French spy satellite on Friday from French Guiana, space officials said.

The Ariane-5 rocket blasted off at 1.26 p.m. (4:26 p.m. British time) from the European Space Agency’s launch site in Kourou, on the northeast coast of South America.

Aboard the rocket was the Helios 2 B satellite, developed to help France prepare missions and assess threats worldwide, as well as drawing up maps of uncharted zones in Afghanistan, Iraq, Chad and the neighbouring Sudanese region of Darfur.

French defence officials said Helios was an integral element in France’s military intelligence arsenal.

(Reporting by Franck Leconte in Cayenne, French Guiana, and Alexander Miles)

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