Up to now, the Ariane launches have primarily taken place from Kourou (French Guiana). From 2024, the Spektrum microlauncher from the Munich-based company Isar Aerospace is now also to fly into space from there.
As the first privately funded launch company, Isar Aerospace has signed a binding agreement with the French space agency CNES (Centre national d'études spatiales, National Center for Space Research) for the use of the launch site in Kourou. The company says this will enable it to offer customers more frequent launches while ensuring the company's growth. Before the launches take place, the appropriate infrastructure is still to be built at the "Centre Spatial Guyanais" (CSG) launch site. With the launch pad located near the equator, it will be possible to expand the range of orbits that can be reached with the Spectrum. In addition to the CSG, Isar Aerospace will also use a launch pad in Andøya, Norway, from which the first test flight will also take place.
Launching from CSG enables us to provide our customers with even more flexible access to space at a higher launch cadence. We are glad that we were able to further strengthen our European partnerships to provide strategic access to space.Alexandre Dalloneau, Vice President Mission and Launch Operations, Isar Aerospace
Isar Aerospace uses launch pad with moving history
The launch site is steeped in history: On March 10, 1970, the Diamant, a launch vehicle developed by ArianeGroup's predecessor SEREB, was launched from here. Since then, the launch complex (Pad B) has been known as Diamant, but was closed in 1978. As recently as September 2021, ArianeGroup announced its intention to reactivate and refurbish the platform. Now Isar Aerospace will take over the Pad B legacy. "CNES is extremely happy to welcome Isar Aerospace for operating launches from Kourou Diamant Launch Site. We look forward for mini launchers to complete Ariane and Vega activities," Jean-Marc Astorg, Director of Strategy at CNES, commented on the agreement. Following an open call for tenders, the Munich-based company signed a binding term sheet that forms the basis for commercial and institutional launches from the CSG.
We are excited that CNES has selected us as small satellite launch operator to fly satellites from the Guiana Space Centre. With adding Kourou, we will further extend our global network of critical infrastructure and gain even more flexibility for our customers.Josef Fleischmann, COO and Co-Founder Isar Aerospace
At the latest since the beginning of Russia's war against Ukraine and the associated loss of Russian Soyuz rockets, the need for independent European access to space has been loudly discussed. So far, Europe has no usable launch facility other than Kourou in French Guiana. Besides the facility under construction in Andøya, Norway, there are also efforts to launch microlaunchers from a floating platform in the North Sea [Astrodrom reported].