The Kourou S- and X-band station, also known as 'Kourou 93', is located 27 km from the town of Kourou and 90 km from Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana, in South America. The station site is 19 km from the Centre Spatiale Guyanais (CSG), Europe's Spaceport. It is used to communicate with XMM-Newton for routine operations, and for the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) — or for backup — for other missions.
The coordinates of the 15-metre antenna are +5° 15' 05.18", -52° 48' 16.79". The antenna is sited at -14.7 metres with respect to the WGS-84 reference ellipsoid, a mathematically-defined reference surface that approximates the Earth's geoid surface.
Facilities & technology
The station hosts a 15m dish antenna that transmits and receives signals in S- and X-band wavelengths, plus facilities for tracking, telemetry, telecommand and radiometric measurements (ranging, Doppler, meteo). There is also a 1.3–metre dish mounted on the side of the 15m dish as an X–band acquisition aid.
The Kourou station can also provide system validation testing of satellites during final checkout in the assembly building or when installed on the launcher (it is sited just a few kilometres from the CSG launch areas and satellites can communicate over the air directly to the station prior to launch). For example, the station was used to validate communications with ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) Johannes Kepler prior to its launch in February 2011.
The station has a MASER (Microwave Amplified by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) frequency and timing system as well as a monitoring and control system. Communications are enabled via the ESA Operations Network (OPSNET) managed by ESOC. The site is also equipped with a no-break power plant.
Kourou provides routine operations support to XMM-Newton and back-up support to missions such as Cluster satellites 1 to 4, Metop-A and Envisat, as well as to other agencies' missions under resource-sharing agreements.
While Kourou is normally controlled from ESOC, the station communicates directly with CSG each time that a satellite is launched on behalf of ESA.
The station is operated by Babcock International Group (formally VT Group) on behalf of ESA.
A GPS-TDAF (GPS Tracking and Data Analysis Facility) dual-frequency receiver system with geodetic accuracy is installed on the site, which delivers continuous measurements to the ESOC Navigation Facility.
The station is also equipped with a Galileo Experimental Sensor Station (GESS) receiver, which also delivers continuous data to ESOC.
Access & contact
The ESOC point of contact is:
Head of Ground Facilities Operations Div. (OPS-ON)
Local site contact:
John Colquhoun, M&O Supervisor
John.Colquhoun [@] esa.int
The international airport serving French Guiana is at Rochambeau, 17 km from Cayenne, with regular Air France flights from Paris. Transport between the airport and Cayenne or Kourou is usually by rental car or taxi; you must book rental cars in advance. Heavy transport is by sea to the port of Dégrad des Cannes.
ESA Station Diane
Boite Postal No. 27
97310 Kourou Cedex
Last update: 29 March 2011