The Spaceport

A one-of-a-kind launch base with unmatched flexibility for hosting parallel missions with the Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega vehicles

Explore the launch sites

ELA-3 Launch Zone

After leaving ELA-3’s Final Assembly Building on its mobile launch table, the completed Ariane 5 arrives at the launch zone, where it is positioned over a concrete foundation with three flame trenches. Liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen feed lines for the launcher’s cryogenic main stage are hooked up via connectors under the launch table, as are the connections for the umbilical mast.

The launch zone has four 80-meter-tall towers that provide lightning protection, and a tower that delivers water to the launch site for cooling and noise damping during Ariane 5’s liftoff. A separate metallic tower equipped with baffles helps protect the launcher from air turbulence created by wind acting on the launch table’s umbilical mast and the launch vehicle itself.

Checkout, control, safety and coordination of Ariane 5 launch campaigns is handled by ELA-3’s launch center, which is located at a 3-km. safe distance from the launch zone. The protected building includes operations room, meeting rooms, offices and other facilities to support the approximately 100 persons involved in an Ariane 5 countdown.

An adjacent three-story building houses all services required for a launch campaign’s technical and operational management through to the start of final countdown.

Final Assembly Building (BAF)

Final Assembly Building (BAF)

The last major step in the launch campaign is Ariane 5’s transfer by rail to the 90-meter-tall Final Assembly Building. It is inside this facility that the launcher receives its payload, along with the Sylda or Speltra structures (if any), and the payload fairing. These payload elements are processed within an encapsulation hall inside the Final Assembly Building.

The payload is then hoisted by a traveling crane and transferred for installation atop the launcher. The launch table’s umbilical mast is fitted with a 20-meter extension, which includes connections for the payload fairing’s air-conditioning system.

The EPS upper stage and the launcher’s integrated attitude control system are fuelled in the final assembly building. When integration activity in the Final Assembly Building is finished, the mobile launch table with its completed launcher is rolled out to the launch zone. This step occurs about 12 hours before launch.

Launch Control Center

Launch Control Center

Ariane 5 launch operations are controlled from Spaceport’s no. 3 launch center, which was purpose-built for the heavy-lift workhorse. This launch center’s forward zone houses the campaign teams and manufacturers from the Ariane 5 industrial team.

Its shielded rear area includes two autonomous control rooms for simultaneous monitoring of two Ariane 5 campaigns, along with a control and command room for housekeeping operations, and three payload rooms for monitoring the satellite payloads.

Launcher Integration Building (BIL)

Launcher Integration Building (BIL)

The 58-meter-tall Launcher Integration Building is used for the mating of the launcher’s stages. The launch campaign begins in this facility with the positioning of Ariane 5’s core cryogenic stage over one of the two mobile launch tables. The two solid booster stages are then mated on the sides of the cryogenic core stage.

The core stage is topped off with one of the upper stages (EPS, ESC-A or ESC-B, depending upon the mission) as well as the Vehicle Equipment Bay.

The Ariane 5 vehicle is linked to the launch table via an umbilical mast, which has an assembled height of 30 meters. After operations are completed in the Launcher Integration Building, the launch table with its assembled launcher is transferred to the Final Assembly Building via a dual track rail line.

Launcher Integration Building (MIK)

The Soyuz launcher integration building handles launcher integration and checkout of the assembled three-stage basic vehicle. Launcher stages are delivered via a rear receiving dock, and vehicle assembly is performed inside the integration building’s air conditioned main bay.

The launcher’s assembly is performed horizontally, following the same proven procedures used for Soyuz vehicles at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and Plesetsk Cosmodrome in Russia.

The Spaceport’s assembly building is 92 meters long, 41 meters wide, and 22 meters tall. It is equipped with two traveling cranes for handling launcher segments, along with a rail system for the movement and integration of the stages.

Completed Soyuz vehicles depart the building on a transporter/erector rail car, which is rolled out to the launch pad for erection, payload integration, final checkout and launch. Situated behind the assembly building is a rear zone area which comprises the Soyuz launch site’s support facilities – including air conditioning and power systems, offices, telecommunications infrastructure and the launch control center.

The reinforced control center is the only building in the Soyuz launch zone that is occupied during final countdown and liftoff. This three-story facility houses the equipment, consoles and offices for the mission control team.

Soyuz Launch Zone (ZLS)

Soyuz Launch Zone (ZLS)

The Soyuz launch zone is dominated by its multi-level launch pad and a massive 149-meter wide X 123-meter long flame duct excavated into layers of soil and granite – making it one of the largest civil construction programs in French Guiana.

Configured after the launch sites at Baikonur and Plesetsk Cosmodromes, the Spaceport’s Soyuz launch zone ensures the same acoustic and environmental conditions as experienced during more than 1,800 liftoffs performed from the facilities in Kazakhstan and Russia.

The Spaceport’s launch pad is 63.5 meters long, 45.3 meters wide and 16 meters deep. This five-level reinforced concrete structure houses mission equipment, and the top two levels have 15-meter wide openings for the launch table and the erected Soyuz vehicle. Its upper area accommodates the launch pad infrastructure, including service tower, fueling booms and erector.

Where the Spaceport’s installation differs from Soyuz Cosmodrome launch sites is the use of an eight-level, mobile launch service tower. This 53-meter tall, 24-meter wide structure is rolled from its parked position onto the launch pad, providing a controlled working environment for the vertical integration of Soyuz’ upper composite – consisting of the mission payload, Fregat upper stage and payload fairing.

Launch Control Center

Launch Control Center

The Launch Control Center, which is located a safe distance from the launch pad, houses the launch vehicle operational team, launch desk and launch pad monitoring equipment.

This facility is used by the launch vehicle operational team for managing preparations, the launch, launch vehicle health monitoring and launch pad readiness. The Launch Control Center is integrated in the CSG operational communication network providing capabilities to act as one of the entity affecting countdown automatic sequence.



The FCube (Fregat Fueling Facility) is a new building dedicated to fueling of the Soyuz Fregat upper stage. It consists of two structures: one building that serves as the remote control center and includes a zone where fueling operators are suited up in their protective clothing; and the other with the Fregat fueling hall, along with the storage for propellant and gases, and areas to hold support and spare equipment.

Qualified to Class 300,000 clean room conditions, the FCube is tailored for Fregat upper stage fueling in a process that involves the loading of UDMH and N2O4 storable propellants, along with N2H4 for attitude control, and helium for propellant tank pressurization.

The FCube – which became operational in 2015 – was developed to reduce the time required to “top off” Fregat upper stages, which takes several weeks as part of Soyuz launch campaigns.  It also frees up another Spaceport facility previously used for Fregat upper stage fueling operations – the Spaceport’s S3 building, making the S3 facility more available for the processing of customer spacecraft to be lofted by the various members of Arianespace’s launch vehicle family.

ZLV launch facility

Vega’s launch site is based on the Spaceport’s ELA-1 complex, which originally was used for missions of the Ariane 1 and Ariane 3 vehicles. For Vega, the launch pad, mobile gantry and infrastructure have been updated and adapted where needed to meet the operational requirements of this new lightweight vehicle – with the site renamed the ZLV launch facility.

The launch pad retains its pair of original flame ducts, which will channel Vega’s exhaust gases during ignition and liftoff.  A new fixed umbilical mast provides power and environmental control connections to the launcher and its payloads from mission preparations through the countdown and liftoff. Four tall towers have been positioned around the launch table to provide protection against lightning strikes.

During launch vehicle assembly and payload integration, the ZLV’s refurbished mobile gantry offers protection from the weather and provides proper working conditions for launch team personnel.  Once Vega is complete, the gantry is rolled back to its parked position, clear of the launch pad.

Launch Control Center

Launch Control Center

Vega’s operational control center is inside the Spaceport’s Control Center no. 3 (CDL 3) facility, which also supports Ariane 5 missions.

Independent operational control and monitoring systems are used for Vega, while its co-location in the CDL-3 building enable a sharing of resources with on-going Ariane 5 mission activity.


The Spaceport in French Guiana – also known as the Guiana Space Center – is a strategically-located facility that provides optimum operating conditions for Arianespace’s commercial launches with the heavy-lift Ariane 5, medium-size Soyuz and lightweight Vega.

Spaceport service entry
Ariane 5 service entry
Soyuz service entry
Vega service entry
Site advantages

The Spaceport has a track record of successful launch operations, industry milestones and other achievements

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Who does what?

An Arianespace launch is the result of teamwork that brings together skilled personnel from multiple organizations

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The Spaceport in French Guiana is the world’s most modern launch base, with three launch vehicles in full operation

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Practical information

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