The European Space Agency (ESA) launched all of its rockets into space from French Guiana decades ago, French overseas department on the northern coast of South America. But why did it choose the launch site on the other side of the Atlantic?
the essence: The site has a number of key advantages that a launch site in Europe will not have.
- First of all, the European spaceport is very close to the equator. This makes possible the use of the so-called “catapult effect”, in which the Earth’s rotation is used to help propel the missile.
- After all, the Earth rotates on its axis at a speed of 1666 kilometers per hour at the equator. Thus, rockets launched towards the east (the direction of Earth’s rotation) receive a boost. This means that the rocket would have to use much less fuel to reach orbit around the planet.
- According to accounts CNES, the French space agency Could a Soyuz rocket launched from French Guiana put 50 percent more mass into orbit than the same rocket launched from Baikonur cosmodrome release. Baikonur is located in Kazakhstan, at a great distance from the equator.
Not the only reason
is very: French Guiana’s location is also important, aside from its proximity to the equator.
- The fact that French Guiana is located on the eastern coast of the South American continent is considered a great advantage. After all, missiles should not be launched above the ground. If something goes wrong, they crash into the ocean.
- The remote location of the launch site is also important. That way, as few people as possible are disturbed by the loud rocket launches. Some launches can reach 180 decibels, which is several times louder than aircraft and even enough rainbow blast.
- The fact that the region is a French territory is of course a huge advantage as well. French Guiana is fully part of the European Union and even uses the Euro.
The history of the spaceport
summary: The history of the European spaceport has to do with the French space agency CNES.
- CNES was founded in 1961. It initially used military airfields in Algeria, but with that country gaining independence the following year, a spaceport site had to be sought elsewhere.
- They looked at a number of locations around the world, but French Guiana was quickly chosen for the reasons mentioned above.
- The launch site was built throughout the 1960s. The first rocket was launched in 1968. In the following years, the French National Center for Space Studies worked increasingly closely with other European countries. ESA was founded in 1975. In the meantime, the first Ariane missile was developed in that decade.
- A major milestone followed in 1979. Then the first Ariane rocket was launched into space. This was the beginning of an independent European space adventure. In the meantime, the European Space Agency is still using the Ariane family: the sixth generation will do We hope it takes to the air next year.
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