Ariane 5 launch site > Overview
Arianespace's ELA-3 launch complex at the Spaceport is one of the world's most modern facilities, and was built specifically to serve the new Ariane 5 heavy-lift vehicle.
It is designed to handle a launch rate of up to 10 Ariane 5 missions per year, with the streamlined launch campaign lasting only 20 working days.
The ELA-3 site covers more than 21 square kilometers and is divided into two separate sections: a preparation area for assembly and integration of the launcher; and the launch zone.
Its preparation area has two buildings – one for the Ariane 5's build-up (performed by industrial prime contractor Astrium), and the other for payload integration as well as final checkout of the completed launcher (carried out under Arianespace management).
A simple design approach was used for the Ariane 5's ELA-3 launch zone, keeping above-ground installations to a minimum. Instead, much of the connections required for fueling the launcher's cryogenic core stage – along with the vehicle's electrical and computer control, as well as payload condition monitoring – are made through the base of Ariane 5's mobile launch table. A fixed tower at the launch site is used to supply propellant for the cryogenic upper stage.
The Spaceport's ELA-3 complex also includes a dedicated facility that produces and loads propellant for the Ariane 5 solid rocket boosters' center and aft segments. This site is separated from ELA-3's other operational sites for safety reasons.