Three launch pads at Europe’s Spaceport

Three very different rockets lift off from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana: the heavy Ariane 5, the medium Soyuz and the latest addition, the  small Vega.

In 1964 the French Government chose Kourou, from 14 other sites, as a base from which to launch its satellites. Kourou lies at latitude 5°3’, just over 500 km north of the equator. Its nearness to the equator makes it ideally placed for launches into geostationary transfer orbit as few changes have to be made to a satellite’s trajectory.

When the European Space Agency came into being in 1975, the French Government offered to share its Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG) with ESA. For its part, ESA approved funding to upgrade the launch facilities at the CSG to prepare the Spaceport for the Ariane launchers under development.

Since then, ESA has continued to fund two thirds of the spaceport’s annual budget to finance the operations and the investments needed to maintain the top level services provided by the Spaceport. ESA also finances new facilities, such as launch complexes and industrial production facilities, for new launchers such as Vega and Soyuz.


Posted 3 months ago with 469 notes
Tagged:ESAkourouFrench Guianalaunch padrocket launchariane vSoyuzVegaAstronomyspace explorationscience

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