The Centre national d'études spatiales (CNES) was founded in 1961 by the French Government to elaborate, propose and execute its space policy. Since then CNES has been a major player in Europe's space endeavours.
For more than 40 years, CNES has ensured the project management of the Ariane programme by collaborating with European researchers and industry. The tasks of CNES at Europe's Spaceport are to:
- maintain and develop the Spaceport launch range infrastructures which ensure safe launches;
- ensure the safety of people and property before, during and after a launch, both at the site and in French Guiana;
- provide essential support for launch vehicle and satellite preparation;
- ensure that launch activities do not have a negative impact on the environment;
- coordinate operations during a test or launch;
- collect and process data from the network of ground stations around the world that track Ariane tests and launches;
- maintain and operate the site, and organise public visits to the Spaceport.
In addition to its activities in the space sector, CNES has been a principle actor in the distribution of French development aid to French Guiana since 2000. As part of the French Government's development plan for its overseas department CNES is engaged in developing infrastructure for tourism and in a telemedicine project designed to provide health care in difficult to reach areas.