Guiana Space Centre or, more commonly,
Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG) is a French spaceport near Kourou in
Map of Guiana Space Centre
Operational since 1968, it is particularly
suitable as a location for a spaceport due to its proximity to the
, and that launches are in a
favourable direction over water. The European Space Agency, the French space agency CNES,
and the commercial Arianespace company
conduct launches from Kourou.
location was selected in 1964 to become the spaceport of France.
Agency (ESA) was founded in 1975, France offered to share
Kourou with ESA.
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
The now-decommissioned ELA 2 -
l'Ensemble de Lancement Ariane 2
Ariane 4 launch site
The final assembly building for Ariane
Kourou is located approximately north of the equator, at a latitude
of 5°10'. At this latitude, the Earth's rotation gives a velocity
of approximately when the launch trajectory heads eastward. The
proximity to the equator also makes maneuvering satellites for
geosynchronous orbits simpler and less costly.
The ground facilities at Guiana Space Centre (GSC) include launcher
( ) and satellite preparation buildings, launch operation
facilities and a solid propellant factory. The GSC facility covers
a total of .
Originally built in the 1960s under the name of CECLES ( , ), the
ELV pad ( ) located at was designed for the Europa-II rocket
. One Europa-II was launched
from the site, before the programme was cancelled.
The pad was demolished, and subsequently rebuilt as the first
launch complex for Ariane rockets. Renamed ELA
redesignated ELA 1
), it was used for Ariane 1
and Ariane 2 and
launches until being retired in 1989.
As of 2008, ELV-1 is being rebuilt to support launches of the
rocket, back under the current
designation of ELV.
The ELA 2 pad ( ), located at had been used for Ariane 4
launches until 2003.
As of 2008, ELA 3 ( ), located at , is currently active for
launches. These facilities cover
an area of .
ELS / Soyuz at CSG
currently building ELS ( ) for launching Russian-built
Soyuz launch from ELS has been postponed several times. The current
target date for the first launch is April 2010.
ELS will be located near Sinnamari
village north 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.
will use the Guiana Space Centre in addition to their Baikonur
Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan launching site.
The Guiana location has the
significant benefit of greatly increased payload capability, owing
to the near equatorial
position. A Soyuz
rocket with a 1.7 tonnes to Geostationary transfer orbit
(GTO) performance from Baikonur, will increase its payload
potential to 2.8 tonnes from the Guiana launch site.
The rocket assembly procedures will differ from ones used at
Baikonur. Traditionally, the Soyuz is being fully assembled in
horizontal position, then transported to a launch pad and erected
for launch. In ELS only the rocket will be assembled in horizontal
position, then transported and erected. Then a spacecraft will be
transported to the pad separately and attached to the rocket. To
protect from dust and wind, the launch pad will have a closed
gantry. The gantry will be able to move away from the pad for
project is being co-funded by Arianespace, 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. As of May 2008, groundworks were still continuing but
the flame pit was substantially complete, along with the shell of
the Soyuz assembly building. Equipment manufactured in Russia had
arrived in French Guiana by July 2008, with Russian technicians
performing the equipment installation at ELS.
In November 2007, reports emerged attributed to Vladimir Grezdilov
, general director of
the Mir company, of thefts from the Soyuz site near Sinnamari, a
village north of the site used for the Ariane-5, that might cause
delays to its completion and the first launches. Grezdilov said
that the local security company was involved.
In February 2009 ESA reported from Samara, Russia that the
launchers destined for the ELS were being built.
On May 21, 2009 Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reported that the
first two Soyuz-ST to be launched at ELS have been built, tested
and prepared for delivery to ELS.
On August 25, 2009 the general director of the Progress design
bureau Alexander Kirilin said that the first launch of the Soyuz-ST
from the Kourou space center has been postponed for the beginning
of April 2010. He informed that the first three rockets have been
built and would be shipped on November 1, 2009 by sea.
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
Fire safety is ensured by a detachment of the Paris Fire Brigade
. Safety around the
base is ensured by French
forces, assisted by the 3rd Foreign Infantry Regiment
of the French Foreign
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
Space Centre (as per CNES) also holds the
Îles du Salut, a former penal colony including the
Now a tourist site, the islands are under
the launching trajectory for geosynchronous orbit
and have to be
evacuated during launches.
- 9 March 2008 - An Ariane 5 launched carrying the ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle)
Jules Verne in preparation for docking with the 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.
- 1 July 2009 - An Ariane 5 carrying TerreStar-1, the heaviest commercial
telecommunications satellite ever launched
- Le Port Spatial de l'Europe (CNES)
- Soyuz User's Manual
- Europe To Pay Russia To Build Soyuz Pad At Kourou: