Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana

Hello and welcome to Europe’s Spaceportin Kourou, French Guiana. This is the last stop for many missionsbefore going into space,but it’s also the place where
the result of international cooperationand technological advances
come together to ensureEurope’s independent access to space. This is French Guiana:an overseas department of France
in South America. Here, you find tropical climate,
dense rainforests, extensive beachesand the occasional controlled explosion. Owing to its nearness to the equator,this is an ideal geographical location
for launching satellites into any orbit. In addition, there’s no risk
of cyclones or earthquakes. While the Spaceport serves clients
from across the globe,it is under the responsibility of
the French Space Agency – CNES -and infrastructures are funded by
the European Space Agency. Within CNES, we operate the launch base,we make sure that the launch can bedone in full security, full safety. We provide our support to Arianespaceas launch service providerand we take care of all the infrastructureof this launch base. Not only is this the site
where satellites come to be launched,it’s where some of
the rocket boosters are prepared. Boosters provide most of
the thrust at liftoff. Filling them with fuel
involves the careful processof mixing and casting
highly explosive material,all under vigilant supervision. Once prepared, the boosters are
stored upside down. The ones we see here
are for the Ariane 5 rocket. Each section is standing
about 10 metres tallto make up a single 30 metre booster. The next step is to
assemble the rocket stages,which has traditionally been
done vertically. But, for the development of Ariane 6,
new buildings have been designedfor horizontal assembly,
which saves time and money. We are now beginning
the transition next yearbetween Ariane 5 and Ariane 6. We hope in three yearsto finish the exploitation of Ariane 5and to have a full operational capacityon Ariane 6. Soyuz will remain accessible
if necessary in case ofopportunities on the commercial market. Ariane 6 is
Europe’s new launch vehicle,capable of carrying a wide range
of missions into orbit. This new rocket requires
a unique launch zonecomplete with its own assembly building,90 metre tall mobile gantry
and massive launch pad.
The next important goalis to put together – let’s say -the launch pad and the launcherduring the combined test and, just after,to perform the maiden flightof Ariane 6 in 2020. The teams at the Spaceport
are also preparing for Vega-C:the next generation of
the small Vega launcher,capable of placing
multiple payloads into orbit. The main difference between
Vega and Vega-Cis the first two stages. So, the launcher, it will be heavyand longer to be much more powerfulto be able to send orbitsatellites heavier and bigger. To provide the extra powerto both Vega-C and Ariane 6
to launch heavier satellites,a new solid rocket motor,
called P120C, has been developed. Here we see one fully loaded with
142 tonnes of fuel configured for Vega-C. It was static fired
at the Spaceport test standfor a final simulation of liftoff
and the first phase of flight. While preparations continue
for these new rockets,the Spaceport remains operationalwith multiple launch campaigns
throughout the yearto bring satellites into space. It’s a very fluid environment. And, what people have to remember isthat even though we do
a lot of launch campaignsand we launch a lot of satellites,
every satellite is differentand every launch campaign is different. So, you can never say
this is really standard. There’s no such thing as
a normal day in the office Control centres, clean rooms
and launcher assembly halls are a far cryfrom a normal office environmentand come with an element of risk,but the employees of the Spaceport
take extra precautionsto minimise these risks
every step of the way,even after a rocket has left the ground. We are able to makea precise localisation of the launcherand, in case of danger,we are able to destroy the launcherin order to make sure that nobody herein Guiana may be affected by this failure. Since the 1960s,
the Spaceport has providedindependent access to space for Europeand continues to be forward-looking. It’s time now to do a new stepin modernisation of the launch base,in particular, to accompany the initiationof the Ariane 6 and Vega-C launches. So, that’s what we are preparing nowwith the support of our colleagues in ESAhere in Kourou and in Paris. And, that’s where we prepare. The future will be then
to operate Ariane 6 and Vega-Cand to offer the same level of
high-level services to our customers,and maybe also towards
the new operators. As you know, there are a lot of
new initiatives in the field ofmicro mini launchers
and Kourou could be the launch base. Looking to the future
is not only about advances intechnology and engineering,
but new expertise. It’s up to the next generation
of professionalsto continue the legacy of
European cooperation in space. We really try to encourage:a. young Europeans to come and visit& b. young Europeans to come and work,because it’s an extremely
exciting place to be. For more on Europe’s Spaceport
in French Guiana,you can visit our website at
www. esa. int. I’m Kelsea Brennan-Wessels,
thanks for watching.

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