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The member space agencies

ESA, The European Space Agency

The European Space Agency is an intergovernmental organisation created in 1975, which pools the resources of its Member States to build a European space capability, undertaking programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.
The Agency develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities. It launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System, and cooperates in the human exploration of space. ESA has 20 Member States. Canada takes part in certain programmes under a cooperation agreement.

ESA's website

CNES, the French space agency

The Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales is a state-controlled entity of an industrial or commercial nature (EPIC). It is the government agency responsible for shaping and implementing France’s space policy in Europe.
As such, it designs the space systems of the future, brings space technologies to maturity and guarantees France’s independent access to space.
CNES is a pivotal player in Europe’s space programme, and a major source of initiatives and proposals that aim to maintain France and Europe’s competitive edge. It takes care of France’s participation in ESA programmes.
It designs and executes space programmes with its partners in the scientific community and industry, and is closely involved in many international cooperation programmes – the key to any far-reaching space policy.

CNES's website

Europe’s spaceport and launchers

Since 1979, the launchers developed by ESA have given Europe independent access to space, from the Guiana Space Centre, Europe’s Spaceport.
A series of Ariane versions has been operated at the CSG over the last 30 years, the present version being the heavylift launcher Ariane 5 (payload capacity of 10 tonnes to Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) and up to 20 tonnes to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), where the International Space Station is positioned).
Ariane was joined in 2011 by the medium-lift launcher Soyuz (3.2 tonnes to GTO), in the framework of cooperation with Russia, and in 2012 by the small launcher Vega (1.5 tonnes to LEO).
This range of launchers is now able to reach all orbits and launch all types of mission.

ESA’s Member States, keen to strengthen industrial competences in the launcher sector, have decided to continue with development of the adapted Ariane 5 ME, a more powerful version than the current Ariane 5 launcher, and to begin development of a new generation launcher, Ariane 6, which will enable Europe to maintain its global no. 1 position.

Centre spatial Guyanais à 360°