The European Space Agency (ESA) held a council meeting today to discuss the maintenance and changes due to take place at Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana for 2020 through 2024. During this meeting, a contract was signed by the ESA and National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), agreeing to “maintain and modernize” the spaceport.
Signing the contract allows the ESA to contribute to maintaining the spaceport in Guiana, just as it has done since 1975. It also enables the ESA to “invest in the modernization of the launch range and to the reduction of its recurring operating costs.”
A significant contributing factor to the need for an upgraded spaceport is the influx of new rockets being launched from Europe. Before, only three types of rockets were being launched; Soyuz, Ariane 5, and Vega. But now there are two more upcoming rockets about to hit the country’s spaceports, Ariane 6 and Vega-C.
Upgrading and modernizing Guiana Space Centre will improve the availability and cost efficiency, allowing launches to go more smoothly. Other aspects of the facilities such as underground water and air conditioning networks will be improved as well.
The ESA also has plans to reduce energy costs onsite by transitioning to renewable energy sources and reducing reliance on the French Guiana grid. “ESA’s role in maintaining and modernizing Europe’s Spaceport is crucial in guaranteeing access to space for all customers,” said Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA director of space transportation.