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Enabling & Support

N° 3–1996: Europe opens new Control Centre and Space Museum in French Guiana

11 January 1996

Preparation works proceed full speed at the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's space port in Kourou (French Guiana), where the new launch complex ELA 3 and integration buildings are ready for the maiden flight of Ariane 5, Europe's new launcher, scheduled for 7 May 1996.

A new range Control Centre, dubbed Jupiter II, from where Ariane 5 flights will be conducted will be used for the first time already this week for the 82nd launch of Ariane 4 in the night of 12 to 13 January (and will continue to be used for all the Ariane 4 launches to come).

This new facility replaces the old Jupiter Control Centre which was built in 1968 and that has been operational for all launches performed from the Guiana Space Centre since its origin (including launches of sounding rockets and of the Diamant and Europa launchers).

Jupiter II was built within the framework of a programme of renovation jointly undertaken by ESA and CNES (the French space agency) at the Guiana Space Centre, and is located on the border of the Technical Centre, about 15 km away from the launch complex. Besides its main function as Ariane launch operations control centre, Jupiter II, which covers an area of 2600 m2, serves also as hosting area for guests and as press centre for the media during launch campaigns (*).

The centre features a new computer system for tracking data, a new high-rate transmission system for telemetry data and a new fiber-optics internal communication network. Other systems such as the Meteo and the Audio/Video networks have been highly improved.

The development of the new Control Centre was performed under the responsibility of CNES. French, German, Italian and Belgian companies have been in charge of the architecture and the construction works, while French, Danish, Dutch, British and Spanish firms have supplied the different equipment.

The history of space and the achievements of more than 20 years of European space activities are highlighted in a new 1500 m2 Space Museum that will also be inaugurated this week-end.

The general public, school classes, and professional visitors of the Guiana Space Centre, will find at the Museum a real "gateway to space". Visitors can wander through an impressive collection of full size satellite models, explanatory panels and video shows, all presented in an exciting and lively scenario that aims at educating and entertaining at the same time on space science, telecommunications, Earth observation, manned space flight and- of course- launchers.

A full size Ariane 5 mock-up, at the entrance of the range, towers above the museum to welcome visitors from all over the world.

The Museum -as well as the Ariane 5 mock-up- has been developed with a substantial contribution from the European Space Agency while French, Italian, Dutch, Swiss, Belgian and German companies have been involved in building, designing and equipping it.

(*) Pictures :
General outside view of Jupiter II
Inside view of Jupiter II