Centre spatial guyanais
B.P. 810 - 97388 Kourou Cedex
Guyane Française - French Guiana
T: + 33 (0) 5 94 33 79 31
Kourou was chosen in part because it is at 5°3 latitude north of the Equator, which makes the site ideal for launching the majority of satellites: it is possible to place payloads into geostationary orbit which are about 15 to 20% greater than comparable launchers at Cape Canaveral. Following the first firing of a Diamant rocket by CNES (the French Space Agency) in 1970, Europe decided to use Kourou for its Europa launchers. In 1975 ESA took over the existing European facilities at the Guiana Space Centre to build ELA-1 (the "Ensemble de Lancement Ariane", or Ariane launch complex) for its Ariane-1, -2 and -3 launchers. For Ariane-4, and to step up the launch rate to about 10 a year, ESA created ELA-2. Now, Ariane-4 is over and Ariane-5 is however launched from a third complex, ELA-3, whose facilities spread over 21 square kilometres. "Europe's spaceport" covers 96 000 hectares, and has a workforce of 1100.