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The Guiana Space Centre (french: Centre Spatial Guyanais; CSG) also called Europe's Spaceport is a
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France ** French language, a French language which originated in France, and its various dialects ** French people, a nation and ethnic group identified with Fr ...
and European
spaceport A spaceport or cosmodrome is a site for launching (or receiving) spacecraft, by analogy to seaport for ships or airport for aircraft. The word ''spaceport'', and even more so ''cosmodrome'', has traditionally been used for sites capable of la ...
to the northwest of
Kourou Kourou is a commune in French Guiana, an overseas region and department of France located in South America. In addition to being an administrative district in French Guiana, it is also the main town in that district. Within the Kourou district ...
in
French Guiana French Guiana ( or ; french: Guyane ) is an overseas department/region and single territorial collectivity of France on the northern Atlantic coast of South America in the Guianas. It borders Brazil to the east and south and Suriname to the wes ...
, a
region of France France is divided into eighteen administrative regions (french: régions, singular ), of which thirteen are located in metropolitan France (on the European continent), while the other five are overseas regions (not to be confused with the ove ...
in
South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. It can also be described as a southern subcontinent of the Americas. The ref ...
. Operational since 1968, it is particularly suitable as a location for a spaceport. It fulfills the two major geographical requirements of such a site: * It is near the
equator The Earth's equator is an imaginary planetary line that is about long in circumference. The equator divides the planet into the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere and is located at 0 degrees latitude, the halfway line between the Nor ...
, so that less energy is required to manoeuvre a spacecraft into an equatorial, geostationary orbit. Rockets launch to the east to take advantage of the angular momentum provided by Earth's rotation. * It has open sea to the east, so that lower stages of rockets and debris from launch failures are unlikely to fall on human habitations. The
European Space Agency , german: Europäische Weltraumorganisation , et, Euroopa Kosmoseagentuur , french: Agence spatiale européenne , fi, Euroopan avaruusjärjestö , el, Ευρωπαϊκός Οργανισμός Διαστήματος , hu, Európai Űrügy ...
(ESA), the French space agency
CNES The (CNES; French: ''Centre national d'études spatiales'') is the French government space agency (administratively, a "public administration with industrial and commercial purpose"). Its headquarters are located in central Paris and it is unde ...
(National Centre for Space Studies), and the commercial companies
Arianespace Arianespace SA is a European company founded in 1980 as the world's first commercial launch service provider. It undertakes the operation and marketing of the Ariane programme. The company offers a number of different launch vehicles: the heavy-li ...
and
Azercosmos Space Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan (Azercosmos) ( az, Azərbaycan Respublikasının Kosmik Agentliyi (Azərkosmos)) is a public legal entity under Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan and ...
conduct launches from Kourou. This was the spaceport used by the ESA to send supplies to the
International Space Station The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit. It is a multinational collaborative project involving five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russi ...

International Space Station
using the
Automated Transfer Vehicle The Automated Transfer Vehicle, originally Ariane Transfer Vehicle or ATV, was an expendable cargo spacecraft developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), used for space cargo transport in 2008–2014. The ATV design was launched to orbit five ...
.


History

The location was selected in 1964 to become the
spaceport A spaceport or cosmodrome is a site for launching (or receiving) spacecraft, by analogy to seaport for ships or airport for aircraft. The word ''spaceport'', and even more so ''cosmodrome'', has traditionally been used for sites capable of la ...
of
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of Fr ...
. In 1975, France offered to share Kourou with ESA."Installation of the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana"
. Guiana Space Centre official website

. European Space Agency official website
Commercial launches are bought also by non-European companies. ESA pays two thirds of the spaceport's annual budget and has also financed the upgrades made during the development of the Ariane launchers. On 4 April 2017, the centre was occupied by 30 labour union leaders in the midst of the
2017 social unrest in French Guiana The 2017 social unrest in French Guiana was a series of protests and strikes led by the "Collective of 500 Brothers" to highlight the issues of insecurity and infrastructure in French Guiana, France. It began on March 20, 2017 in Kourou, and spread ...
, but was taken back on 24 April 2017.


Facilities

Kourou is located approximately north of the equator, at a latitude of 5°. It is a
common misconception This is a list of common misconceptions. Each entry is worded as a correction; the misconceptions themselves are implied rather than stated. These entries are concise summaries of the main subject articles, which can be consulted for more detail. ...
that the main advantage of launching a rocket from the equator is the extra boost provided by the speed of the Earth's rotation. For example, the eastward boost provided by the Earth's rotation is about at the Guiana Space Centre, as compared to about at the
United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, 326 India ...
east coast
Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS) is an installation of the United States Space Force's 45th Space Wing, located on Cape Canaveral in Brevard County, Florida. Headquartered at the nearby Patrick Space Force Base, the station is the ...
and
Kennedy Space Center The John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC, originally known as the NASA Launch Operations Center), located on Merritt Island, Florida, is one of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) ten field centers. Since December 1968, KSC ...
spaceports which are at 28°27′N latitude in
Florida Florida (, ) is a state located in the Southeastern region of the United States. With a population of over 21million, Florida is the third-most populous and the 22nd-most extensive of the 50 United States. The state is bordered to the west by ...
. This means that rockets need around 60 m/s more
delta-v#REDIRECT Delta-v#REDIRECT Delta-v {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
to reach Low Earth Orbit (LEO) from Cape Canaveral, which is an insignificant disadvantage. In reality, the main benefit of Kourou is that the near-equatorial launch location provides an advantage for launches to low-
inclination Orbital inclination measures the tilt of an object's orbit around a celestial body. It is expressed as the angle between a reference plane and the orbital plane or axis of direction of the orbiting object. For a satellite orbiting the Earth di ...
(or
geostationary A geostationary orbit, also referred to as a geosynchronous equatorial orbit''Geostationary orbit'' and ''Geosynchronous (equatorial) orbit'' are used somewhat interchangeably in sources. (GEO), is a circular geosynchronous orbit above Earth' ...
) Earth
orbit In physics, an orbit is the gravitationally curved trajectory of an object, such as the trajectory of a planet around a star or a natural satellite around a planet. Normally, orbit refers to a regularly repeating trajectory, although it may als ...
s compared to launches from
spaceport A spaceport or cosmodrome is a site for launching (or receiving) spacecraft, by analogy to seaport for ships or airport for aircraft. The word ''spaceport'', and even more so ''cosmodrome'', has traditionally been used for sites capable of la ...
s at higher latitude. This is because rockets can be launched into orbits with an inclination of as low as ~6°. The lowest inclination a rocket from Cape Canaveral could be launched to is 28.5° (the latitude of Cape Canaveral). Inclination change burns already require significant amounts of delta-v, so needing to change inclination by 28.5° seriously affects a rocket's capability to send satellites into a
geostationary transfer orbit A geosynchronous transfer orbit or geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) is a type of geocentric orbit. Satellites which are destined for geosynchronous (GSO) or geostationary orbit (GEO) are (almost) always put into a GTO as an intermediate step for ...
(GTO). As a result of these phenomena, similarly sized
Proton A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol or , with a positive electric charge of +1''e'' elementary charge and a mass slightly less than that of a neutron. Protons and neutrons, each with masses of approximately one atomic mass unit, are collecti ...
and
Ariane 5 Ariane 5 is a European heavy-lift space launch vehicle developed and operated by Arianespace for the European Space Agency (ESA). It is launched from the Centre Spatial Guyanais in French Guiana. It has been used to deliver payloads into geostat ...
rockets can send similar payloads to LEO. However, the Proton, launched from high latitudes in Russia, can only send 6,270 kg to GTO while a Kourou-launched Ariane 5 can send more than 10,000 kg to GTO. However, the massive
SpaceX Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California. It was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transpo ...
Falcon Heavy Falcon Heavy is a partially reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle designed and manufactured by SpaceX. It is derived from the Falcon 9 vehicle and consists of a strengthened Falcon 9 first stage as the center core with two additional Falcon 9-like ...
makes up for the geographic disadvantage of Cape Canaveral by lifting up to 26,700 kg to GTO.


BEC / ELA-1 / ELV

Originally built in the 1960s under the name of Base Équatoriale du CECLES ( en,
ELDO 250px, Europa II 200px, Rolls-Royce''RZ-12'' 200px, ''Coralie'' 200px, ''Astris'' The European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO) is a former European space research organisation. It was first developed in order to establish a satellite launch ...
Equatorial Base), the pad located at was designed for the Europa-II launch vehicle. One Europa-II was launched from the site in 1971 which ended in failure due to a guidance problem, before the programme was cancelled. The pad was demolished, and subsequently rebuilt as the first launch complex for Ariane as ''ELA'' (french: Ensemble de Lancement Ariane). Redesignated later as ''ELA-1'', it was used for
Ariane 1 Ariane 1 was the first rocket in the Ariane family of expendable launch systems. It was developed and operated by the European Space Agency (ESA), which had been formed in 1973, the same year that development of the launch had commenced. Ariane ...
and Ariane 2 and 3 launches until being retired in 1989. In November 2001, it was refurbished again for the Vega rocket and renamed ''ELV'' (french: Ensemble de Lancement Vega). The first launch was performed on 13 February 2012.


ELA-2

The ELA-2 pad (french: Ensemble de Lancement Ariane-2), located at , built in 1986, had been used for Ariane 4 launches from 1988 until 2003. Before 1988, altought purpouse-built for ''Ariane 4'', the pad hosted a ''Ariane-2'' and two ''Ariane-3'' launches. The complex consisted of two areas: the launcher preparation zone and the launch pad itself, separated by one kilometer, allowing a launcher to be assembled in the preparation zone meanwhile another lanunches from the pad. A mobile service tower at the launch pad provided a protected environment for payload installation and final preparation of the rocket. In September 2011 the pad's service tower was demolished using explosives.


ELA-3

ELA-3 (french: Ensemble de Lancement Ariane-3) has been active for
Ariane 5 Ariane 5 is a European heavy-lift space launch vehicle developed and operated by Arianespace for the European Space Agency (ESA). It is launched from the Centre Spatial Guyanais in French Guiana. It has been used to deliver payloads into geostat ...
launches since 1996 (Ariane 501). This facility is located at and covers an area of .


ELA-4

ELA-4 (french: Ensemble de Lancement Ariane-4) is presently under construction, intended for future Ariane 6 launches. This facility is located at .


ELS / Soyuz at CSG

ESA has built ELS (french: Ensemble de Lancement Soyouz) at for launching Russian-built Soyuz-2 rockets. The first Soyuz launch from ELS was postponed several times, but launched on 21 October 2011. ELS is located on the territory of Sinnamary commune, from Kourou harbor. It is northwest of the site used for the Ariane 5 launches. Under the terms of the Russo-European joint venture, ESA will augment its own launch vehicle fleet with Soyuz rockets — using them to launch ESA or commercial payloads — and the Russians will get access to the Kourou spaceport for launching their own payloads with Soyuz rockets. Russia will use the Guiana Space Centre in addition to Baikonur Cosmodrome. The Guiana location has the significant benefit of greatly increased payload capability, owing to the near
equator The Earth's equator is an imaginary planetary line that is about long in circumference. The equator divides the planet into the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere and is located at 0 degrees latitude, the halfway line between the Nor ...
ial position. A Soyuz rocket with a 1.7 tonnes to
geostationary transfer orbit A geosynchronous transfer orbit or geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) is a type of geocentric orbit. Satellites which are destined for geosynchronous (GSO) or geostationary orbit (GEO) are (almost) always put into a GTO as an intermediate step for ...
(GTO) performance from Baikonur, will increase its payload potential to 2.8 tonnes from the Guiana launch site. The ELS project is being co-funded by
Arianespace Arianespace SA is a European company founded in 1980 as the world's first commercial launch service provider. It undertakes the operation and marketing of the Ariane programme. The company offers a number of different launch vehicles: the heavy-li ...
, ESA, and the European Union, with CNES being the prime contractor. The project has a projected cost of approximately €320 million, where €120 million are allocated for modernizing the Soyuz vehicle. The official opening of the launch site construction occurred on 27 February 2007. Excavation work however, had previously begun several months beforehand. On 13 September 2010, Spaceflight Now reported that after several delays in the construction of a mobile gantry the launch pad had been finished, and the first flight of the Soyuz was expected to occur in early 2011. By October 2010, 18 launch contracts had been signed. Arianespace has ordered 24 launchers from Russian industry. On 21 October 2011, two Galileo (satellite navigation), Galileo IOV-1 and IOV-2 satellites were launched using a Soyuz-2, Soyuz-ST rocket, in the "first Russian Soyuz vehicle ever launched from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana."


Final assembly building

Astrium assembles each Ariane 5 launcher in the Launcher Integration Building. The vehicle is then delivered to the Final Assembly Building for payload integration by Arianespace. The Final Assembly Building is located from the ELA-3 launch zone. The mobile launch table completes the trip with an Ariane 5 in about one hour. It is then secured in place over the launch pad's flame ducts.


Launches

launch on Vega (rocket), Vega on 23 June 2015. File:Centre spatial guyanais - Rollout Soyuz 8841896881.jpg, 290px, Soyuz-2, Soyuz rollout to ELS pad on 9 October 2012.


Launch safety

Fire safety is ensured by a detachment of the Paris Fire Brigade, a branch of the French Army. Security around the base is ensured by French Gendarmerie forces, assisted by the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment of the French Foreign Legion. Before and during launch windows, CSG facility security is significantly enhanced by anti-personnel and anti-aircraft measures, the exact configurations of which are classified by the French military. All entrants to the launch complex are also subject to checks for proof of permission to enter the facility. The Guiana Space Centre (as per CNES) also contains the ''Salvation Islands, Îles du Salut'', a former penal colony including the infamous Devil's Island (Kourou), Devil's Island. Now a tourist site, the islands are under the launching trajectory for geosynchronous orbit and have to be evacuated during launches.


Early launches

* 10 March 1970 - The first Diamant, Diamant-B launched the DIAL/MIKA and DIAL/WIKA satellites. DIAL/MIKA failed during launch, but it entered orbit with a total mass of 111 kg. DIAL/WIKA provided data for about two months after launch.


Recent launches

* 5 October 2007 — An Ariane 5, Ariane 5 GS launched from CSG carrying Intelsat 11 and Optus D2. * 9 March 2008 — An Ariane 5 launched carrying the Automated Transfer Vehicle, ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) ''Jules Verne'' in preparation for docking with the
International Space Station The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station (habitable artificial satellite) in low Earth orbit. It is a multinational collaborative project involving five participating space agencies: NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russi ...

International Space Station
(ISS). This was the first launch of the ESA unmanned resupply craft. * 18 April 2008 — An Ariane 5 launched carrying Vinasat-1 — Vietnam's first satellite. * 14 August 2008 — An Ariane 5 carrying JSAT (satellite constellation), Superbird 7 for Mitsubishi Electric, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and AMC-21 for SES Americom * 20 December 2008 — An Ariane 5 carrying Hot Bird, HOT BIRD 9 and W series (satellites), W2M for Eutelsat * 14 May 2009 — An Ariane 5 carrying the ESA's Herschel Space Observatory, Herschel and Planck (spacecraft), Planck Space telescope, space telescopes * 1 July 2009 — An Ariane 5 carrying TerreStar-1, the heaviest commercial telecommunications satellite ever launched * 18 December 2009 — An Ariane 5 carrying Helios 2B European military observation satellite used by
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consisting of metropolitan France and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of Fr ...
, Belgium, Spain and Greece. * 21 May 2011 — 04:38 (GMT+08:00) An Ariane 5 ECA launch vehicle launched carrying ST-2 Satellite twice as powerful Singtel's first satellite ST-1 which was launched back in 1998. It will provide 20% more transponder capacity and a wider coverage footprint than ST-1, with C-band and Ku-band coverage of the Middle East, Central Asia, Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. * 21 October 2011 — A Soyuz-2 carrying two Galileo (satellite navigation), Galileo satellites was launched. This was the first launch of a Soyuz rocket at the Centre Spatial Guyanais. * 17 December 2011 — A Soyuz carrying the French space agency's Pleiades (satellite), Pleiades 1 Earth imaging satellite, four ELISA (satellite), ELISA electronic intelligence satellites, and the SSOT (satellite), SSOT remote sensing satellite for the Military of Chile, Chilean military. This was the second launch of a Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre. * 13 February 2012 — The Vega (rocket), Vega, which was designed in Italy, lifted off at 10:00 UTC on its maiden voyage. The launcher released nine satellites into orbit: two Italian satellites and seven Small satellite, pico-satellites. * 5 July 2012 — The unmanned Ariane 5 rocket took off to send an American communication satellite and European weather-monitoring spacecraft into orbit. Liftoff occurred at 21:36 UTC. * 30 August 2013 — Indian Space Research Organisation (Indian Space Research Organisation, ISRO) launched the advanced multi-band communication satellite GSAT-7. It was 17th Indian satellite launched from European Space Agency, ESA with
Ariane 5 Ariane 5 is a European heavy-lift space launch vehicle developed and operated by Arianespace for the European Space Agency (ESA). It is launched from the Centre Spatial Guyanais in French Guiana. It has been used to deliver payloads into geostat ...
. * 16 October 2014 — An Ariane 5 launch vehicle carrying the communication satellite ARSAT-1 to orbit. It is the first geostationary satellite built by an Latin American country (Argentina), and the second one of the Americas, after USA. * 30 September 2015 — An Ariane 5 launch vehicle carrying the communication satellite ARSAT-2 to orbit, being the second Argentine geostationary satellite built in two years. * 1 October 2015 — Sky Muster (NBN-Co 1A) is a communication satellite launched on an Ariane 5, Ariane 5 ECA launch vehicle. Sky Muster is the first satellite of an operation to improve Australia's internet with the NBN Co, NBN program. * 6 October 2016 — Sky Muster, Sky Muster II (NBN-Co 1B) is a communication satellite launched on an Ariane 5 ECA launch vehicle. Sky Muster II is the second satellite of an operation to improve Australia's internet with the NBN program. * 28 January 2017 — A Soyuz-2, Soyuz-2 STB carrying the geostationary communication satellite Hispasat AG1, Hispasat 36W-1 to orbit. It is the first of the ESA's "Small-GEO" class of satellites. * 14 February 2017 - An Ariane 5 launch vehicle carrying the commercial communication satellites SKY Brasil, Sky Brasil 1 (Intelsat 32e) and Telekom 3S launched the satellites to a geostationary orbit. * 25 January 2018 - Partial failure of Ariane 5 launch vehicle on Ariane flight VA241. * 19 October 2018 - An Ariane 5 launch vehicle launches the European-Japanese BepiColombo mission to Mercury (planet), Mercury. * 5 February 2019 - Ariane 5 launched the Saudi Arabia, Saudi Geostationary Satellite SaudiGeoSat-1/HellasSat-4, SGS-1 (also known as SaudiGeosat-1/HellasSat-4). * 11 July 2019 - Vega launch vehicle failed to launch Falcon Eye 1 satellite for United Arab Emirates Armed Forces. * 15 August 2020 - An Ariane 5 launched MEV-2 and Intelsat 10-02 Galaxy (satellite), Galaxy-30.


Future launches

* 31 October 2021 James Webb Space Telescope.


Launch statistics

, Kourou counts amongst the spaceports with the highest percentage of successful launches, both successive and overall. Here is a chronology of all orbital launches from the Kourou spaceport since 1970, under the French and European space programmes.


Flights by launcher

In development:      Active:           
Retired:                 


Flights by mission outcome

        
Charts include all orbital launches from Kourou; sounding rockets are excluded.
Historical data: launch tables from List of Ariane launches, Soyuz at the Guiana Space Centre, Soyuz ST, Vega (rocket), Vega an
Encyclopedia Aeronautica

Last updated on 30 December 2020.


See also

* French space program * European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) * European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) * European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) * European Astronaut Centre (EAC) * European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) * ESA Centre for Earth Observation (ESRIN) * ESTRACK, European Space Tracking Network (ESTRACK) *
European Space Agency , german: Europäische Weltraumorganisation , et, Euroopa Kosmoseagentuur , french: Agence spatiale européenne , fi, Euroopan avaruusjärjestö , el, Ευρωπαϊκός Οργανισμός Διαστήματος , hu, Európai Űrügy ...
(ESA) * 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment


References


External links

*
Soyouz in Guiana


– information from ESA

– information from StratoCat
Arianespace mission status
– information on current and upcoming Ariane missions; list of past missions {{authority control Guiana Space Centre, European Space Agency Spaceports Buildings and structures in Kourou Rocket launch sites Space program of France 1968 establishments in South America 1968 establishments in France