The site of the future Ariane 6 launch pad, four kilometres north-west of the ELA 3 launch complex, is a hive of activity. © CNES/CSG
Visible from the Route de l'Espace, four cranes are operating around a 200-metre-long, 90-metre-wide and 28.5-metre-deep pit that is set to become the new ELA 4 launch complex at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG).
Cut out of the granite rock, the new complex will have two 18-metre-high symmetrical, covered flame trenches modelled on the same design as those used for Ariane 5.
These flame trenches channel away the combustion gases from the main cryogenic stage and solid-rocket boosters, while also damping vibrations and acoustic effects.
Construction of the trenches began in mid-July and is scheduled to be completed in mid-March next year.
The launch pad foundation, modelled on the Soyuz launch pad, will be built to accommodate all of the systems required to operate the launcher
Other facilities will be added later, including a fixed launch table and umbilical mast, lightning arresters, a mobile service gantry and a water tower.
ELA 4 (for Ensemble de Lancement 4) is the 9th launch complex developed by CNES’s Launch Vehicles Directorate for the CSG, and the 4th for Europe’s Ariane launcher since 1968.
ELA 4 key figures
Total development cost
|Economic spin-offs for French Guiana||€94m|
|Duration of construction||4 years (mid-2015 to mid-2019)|
|Total surface area|
170 hectares, including 18 ha of building
700,000m³ of material
7 times Notre-Dame Cathédrale in Paris
60 000 m³ (equivalent to 24 Olympic-size swimming pool)
|Reinforced concrete||50,000 m³|
|Metal structure||6,500 T (the Eiffel tower weighs 8,000t)|