Europe's Vega rocket blasts off with Airbus observation satellite
It was the second launch this year of the Vega, a crucial component of European ambitions to compete with rivals such as Elon Musk's SpaceX in the booming commercial aerospace market.
The rocket blasted off from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou at 10:47 pm (0147 GMT), successfully delivering the satellites in just under two hours.
The Pleiades Neo constellation will offer high-resolution imaging of Earth for military or civilian uses such as disaster response, according to Airbus.
The latest Vega also carried four miniature satellites known as "cubesats".
One of them will become part of a constellation of satellites being developed by French start-up Unseenlabs, which specialises in maritime traffic monitoring.
The remaining three cubesats are from the European Space Agency for scientific and technology demonstration purposes.
The two 2021 launches are a boost to the Vega programme -- an effort involving 10 European countries -- which suffered a setback in November last year when the rocket failed minutes after liftoff and disintegrated.