Saturday, March 8, 2008

Ambitions for Kourou

Further proof of the birth of Space Race II, ESA plans for expansions at Kourou, it's ideally situated spaceport

By Jonathan Amos
Science reporter

He is content, however, because this is just the right kind of depression compared with the one his Arianespace company was contemplating just a few years ago.

This is the fire bowl, recently dug from granite, that will deflect the exhaust plume and noise away from a Soyuz rocket as the Russian vehicle lifts clear of the launch gantry on its maiden voyage from the Kourou spaceport next year.

It is all part of the grand plan to provide the complete package at Europe's launch complex in French Guiana - any payload to any orbit.

The portfolio will include Soyuz, a medium-class launcher; the company's workhorse heavy-lift vehicle, the Ariane 5; and a soon to debut mini-rocket known as Vega.

The satellite industry likes the prospect of it all and has given Arianespace a bulging order book; the French-run business has posted sales of just under one billion euros for the past year.

It is all a far cry from May 2003 when a flat market and the disastrous failure of an Ariane vehicle in flight had brought the company to its knees.

Read more HERE.

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