@GalileoGNSS is soon visiting one of the most exciting sites for people who love space related projects in general and Galileo in particular: the European Space Centre in Kourou (French Guiana).
This is the place were the Galileo satellites are launched inside a Soyuz rocket. At our return, we hope to provide all our readers a complete photo-report of the mission, for which we kindly ask for your collaboration. If you are specially interested in knowing a specific department/building in the Space Centre, please, leave a comment below and we will do our best to satisfy all of our proposals.
The Guiana Space Centre or Centre spatial guyanais (CSG) is a French and European spaceport in Kourou. Operational since 1968, it is particularly suitable as its location fulfills the two major geographical requirements for a spaceport:
Located quite close to the equator, so that the spinning earth can impart some extra velocity to the rockets for free when launched eastward. Kourou is located approximately 500 kilometres north of the equator, at a latitude of 5°10′. At this latitude, the Earth’s rotation gives a velocity of approximately 460 metres per second (1,700 km/h) when the launch trajectory heads eastward. Meanwhile in Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center spaceports which are at 28°27’N latitude in Florida the extra velocity is around 400 m/s.
It has uninhabited territory to the east (Atlantic Ocean), so that lower stages of rockets and debris from launch failures cannot fall on human habitations.
The location was selected in 1964 to become the spaceport of France. When ESA was founded in 1975, France offered to share Kourou with ESA. Commercial launches are bought also by non-European companies. ESA pays two thirds of the spaceport’s annual budget and has also financed the upgrades made during the development of the Ariane launchers.