Spaceport introduction > Overview
The Spaceport – also known as the Guiana Space Center – is a strategically-located facility that provides optimum operating conditions for Arianespace's commercial launches.
Situated in French Guiana, the Spaceport's location close to the equator at 5.3 deg. North latitude makes it ideally-situated for missions into geostationary orbit.
Launching near the equator reduces the energy required for orbit plane change maneuvers. This saves fuel, enabling an increased operational lifetime for Ariane satellite payloads – and, in turn, an improved return on investment for the spacecraft operators.
In addition, French Guiana has a low population density and is protected from hurricanes and earthquakes, providing it with unique advantages as a highly operational launch site.
Building up the launch rate
The French Guiana coastline's shape allows for launches into all useful orbits from northward launches to -10.5 deg. through eastward missions to +93.5 deg.
Ariane operations began in 1979 with the Ariane 1 version. Since then, more than 210 Ariane flights have been performed from the Spaceport, where the Ariane 5 now operates as Arianespace's workhorse heavy-lift launch vehicle.
Arianespace’s launcher family was expanded in 2011 with the introduction of its medium-lift Soyuz at French Guiana, and joined in early 2012 by the lightweight Vega.
With the three launch vehicles in full operation, Arianespace is targeting a flight activity of approximately 10 missions per year from French Guiana – composed of an average seven Ariane 5 flights annually, plus two Soyuz missions and a Vega launch.