AeolusEurope's Spaceport Ground Facilities

Aerial view of ESA's ELA-3

Credits: ESA - S. Corvaja

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Aerial view of ESA's Ariane Launch Complex no.3 (ELA-3) in the western part of the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), Europe's space port, near Kourou, French Guiana. In the foreground is the Launcher Integration Building (BIL), a 58-m-high hall where Ariane 5 launchers are stacked. Behind it is the rail track used to ferry fully integrated Solid Booster Stages (EAPs) from the Booster Integration Building (BIP). The dual rail track in front of the BIL is used by mobile launch tables to move assembled launchers to the Final Assembly Building (BAF), where they are mated with their payloads. In the background is the liquid hydrogen propellant plant with its water tower. The ELA-3 is designed to sustain a launch rate of up to eight Ariane 5 missions per year. Founded by CNES, the French space agency, near the city of Kourou, French Guiana, the CSG became operational in 1968. From 1970 to 1975, it was used for launches of French Diamant vehicles. Three ESA-funded Ariane Launch Complexes (ELAs) have been built to support launches of the various versions of the Ariane launchers. ELA-3 is dedicated to Ariane 5 while Ariane 4's ELA-2 was deactivated in 2003. The original ELA-1 is being refurbished for Vega vehicles to be introduced in 2006. CSG also includes technical centers, payload processing facilities, industrial production sites for cryogenic and solid propellants. Due to its location close to the Equator launches from CSG benefit from the "slingshot effect" caused by the Earth's spin that increase the payload capability of launchers. Moreover, a wide opening on the Atlantic Ocean provides direct access to all kinds of orbit, from near equatorial to Sun synchronous, with a network of downrange tracking stations.

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