A European Vega rocket has been lost shortly after blast off, the commercial space company Arianespace says.
It is the first time in 15 launches that a Vega rocket has failed.
The rocket had been carrying a military satellite for the United Arab Emirates when it took off from the European spaceport in French Guiana on Wednesday evening.
It is believed to have crashed into the Atlantic Ocean north of the space centre.
Luce Fabreguettes, Arianespace’s executive vice president of missions, said a “major anomaly” had occurred about two minutes after liftoff at the time of the second stage ignition.
“On behalf of Arianespace I wish to express our deepest apologies to our customers for the loss of their payload,” he said.
“From the first flight data analysis, we will get in the coming hours more precise information, and we will communicate to everybody at the soonest.”
The reason for the failure was not immediately known. The flight had been postponed twice because of adverse weather conditions.
The rocket had been carrying a satellite known as FalconEye1 – the first of two that will make up the UAE’s FalconEye satellite system.
Vega, which made its maiden flight in 2012, was developed to allow European countries to launch small satellites into space.
French-based Arianespace markets the four-stage Vega rocket system which was jointly developed by the Italian Space Agency and the European Space Agency.