Paris, 29 September 2021. – After eight years of work: the new launch pad for Ariane 6 in French Guiana has been inaugurated, the French space agency CNES said.
The new launch pad was built on a 170-hectare site, using 900,000 cubic meters of earthwork, 55,000 cubic meters of concrete and 8,000 cubic meters of structural steel, CNES said.
Some 600 people worked on the project, 75% of them local personnel. It is the eighth pad to be built by CNES and its industrial partners in French Guiana, after Diamant, Europa, Ariane 1, 4, 5, Vega and Soyuz.
The ELA-4 is made up of the launch pad, which is the base that supports the launcher itself, and all the structures and equipment necessary for final assembly operations and launch, the launch table that is embedded in it, the mobile gantry and the umbilical mast.
The main objectives of the ELA-4 design are to reduce launch costs and to take the environment into account, CNES said. The cost reduction is achieved by the integration of the launcher in the horizontal and the automation of the operations.
“ESA and ArianeGroup now have the means to launch the future Ariane 6, whose first flight is expected in 2022”, CNES said. “Among the main benefits expected from the new European launcher, its great versatility will offer a very wide range of missions. Thanks to this flexibility, it will be able to meet all the requirements of both institutional and commercial customers.”