June 3, 2022

Launch complexes

A launch complex consists of the facilities required for the preparation and lift-off of a launcher. At the GSC, Ariane 5, Ariane 6 and Soyuz each have their own launch complex. Vega and Vega-C are optimised to use the same facilities.

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A launch complex comprises all the ground infrastructure in which the assembly and integration of the various components of a launcher take place. These facilities are used to prepare the launcher for lift-off.

Within the launch complex is a large open area away from the launcher assembly infrastructure, and which includes a launch pad, storage areas, technical buildings and a launch centre to supervise the operations. This is the launch zone, from where the launcher lifts off.

Since its creation in 1964, the Guiana Space Centre has had nine launch complexes, three of which are currently operational.


Ariane 5 Launch Complex

The ELA-3 has been launching Ariane 5 since 1996. All launcher preparation operations take place here until lift-off.

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Ariane 6 Launch Complex

This is the latest launch complex to spring up at the GSC, and brings together modern facilities to optimise the costs and lead times for preparing Ariane 6.


Soyuz Launch Complex

The Soyuz launch complex, which incorporates elements of the Soyuz facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, enables the Russian launcher to lift off from French Guiana. In the wake of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, its operation is currently suspended.


Vega Launch Complex

This launch complex, from which Vega and Vega-C launchers lift off, reuses some of the facilities of the Ariane 1, 2 and 3 launchers.

Ensemble de lancement Diamant

Past launch complexes

From sounding rockets to Diamant and on to Ariane 4, the Guiana Space Centre has sent a number of launchers into space that are now retired. The experience gained from their launch complexes was used to build the ones currently in operation.