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Centre Spatial Guyanais

Centre Spatial Guyanais (Guiana Space Centre) is a French/European spaceport near Kourou in French Guiana. Operational since 1968, it is particularly suitable as a location for a spaceport due to its proximity to the equator, and the fact that launches in the favourable direction are over water. The European Space Agency as well as the commercial Arianespace company launch their satellites from Kourou.

The spaceport was selected in 1964 to become the spaceport of France. When the European Space Agency (ESA) was founded in 1975, France offered to share Kourou with ESA. Commercial launches are bought also by non-European companies. ESA pays two thirds of the spaceport's annual budget, and has also financed the upgrades made during the development of the Ariane launchers. The ground facilities include launcher and satellite preparation buildings, launch operation facilities and a solid propellant factory.

There are plans for building facilities for launching Russian rockets, as an alternative for the Kazakhstan launching site Baikonur Cosmodrome.

Kourou is located only 500 km north of the equator, at a latitude of 5 degrees. At this latitude, the Earth's rotation gives an additional velocity of almost 500 m/s. In addition, maneuvering the satellites to the desired orbit is usually simpler when the launch is made close to the equator.

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