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CNES Announces Winners of Micro and Mini Launcher Operations to Launch from Guiana Space Center

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
July 25, 2022
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Vega and Ariane 5 launch pads at Europe’s Spaceport. (Credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja)

PARIS (CNES PR) — At the end of 2021, CNES launched a call for applications to host micro and mini-launchers at the Guiana Space Center, thus expressing, in close collaboration with ESA, its desire to open the space port of Europe to new operators.

Among the applications received, 7 winners were pre-selected across Europe, including 2 French: AVIO SPA (Italy), HyImpulse Technologies GmbH (Germany), ISAR Aerospace (Germany), MAIA Space (France), Payload Aerospace (Spain), Rocket Factory (Germany), Latitude (formerly Venture Orbital Systems, France). Other operators may be pre-selected during a subsequent call for additional applications, in particular according to the reception capacities identified at the CSG.

CNES is particularly pleased with the presence, among the shortlisted, of the French companies MAIA and Latitude (formerly Venture Orbital Systems), an illustration of the dynamism of the national industrial fabric that CNES has been stimulating for a long time.

With the advent of New Space and the corresponding prospects in the international commercial market, there is a flourishing interest in the development of new micro and mini-launcher systems. The Guiana Space Center located in Kourou, French Guiana, offers a particularly favorable geographical location for carrying out certain launches as well as more than 50 years of experience in this area. Welcoming these new commercial operators is part of the transformation that Europe’s spaceport is currently undergoing and demonstrates its strong appeal.

The Diamant site was selected by CNES to host these new micro/mini-launchers. Its facilities will consist of common resources (access road, power supply, etc.) that can be used for several launchers, as well as resources specific to each launcher (launch table, assembly building, etc.).

Following the pre-selection of these operators, CNES will gradually enter into discussions with each of them, depending on the respective progress of their project on the technical and financial level, for the signing of a preliminary agreement defining the principles and conditions of their reception at the CSG. This signature will thus formalize their selection, before the signing of contracts for the implementation of the necessary launching means and the operational exploitation phase of these micro and mini-launchers.