The Guiana Space Centre or, more commonly, Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG) is a French spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana. Operational since 1968, it is particularly suitable as a location for a spaceport due to its proximity to the equator, 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. The location was selected in 1964 to become the spaceport of France. When the European Space Agency (ESA) was founded in 1975, France offered to share Kourou with ESA.
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The GSC facility covers a total of 850 km².
- ELA-3: (Ensemble de Lancement Ariane 3) is currently active for Ariane 5 launches.
- ELS / Soyuz at CSG: On October 21, 2011 two Galileo IOV satellites were launched from the ELS (Ensemble de Lancement Soyuz) using a Soyuz-ST rocket. This was the first launch of a Soyuz rocket at the Guiana Space Centre.
- ELV: ELA-1 is being rebuilt to support launches of the Vega rocket, back under the current designation of ELV (Ensemble de Lancement Vega).
In-Orbit Validation (IOV) Satellites
The testbed satellites GIOVE-A and GIOVE-B were followed by four IOV Galileo satellites that are much closer to the final Galileo satellite design. The first two satellites were launched on 21 October 2011 from Guiana Space Centre using a Soyuz launcher, the other two on 12 October 2012. This enabled key validation tests, since earth-based receivers such as those in cars and phones need to “see” a minimum of four satellites in order to calculate their position in three dimensions. Those 4 IOV Galileo satellites were constructed under the responsibility of Astrium GmbH. On 12 March 2013, a first fix was performed using those four IOV satellites.