The European Space Agency (ESA) and CNES, the French Space Agency, have signed a 435 million euro contract that assures the availability of the CSG launch range for ESA programs and activities and for the exploitation of Ariane, Vega, and Soyuz launchers over the period 2009 to 2013.
The signature ceremony took place at the Guiana Space Centre (Centre Spatial Guyanais — CSG), Europe’s Spaceport located in Kourou, French Guiana. Antonio Fabrizi, ESA Director of Launchers, and Joël Barre, Director of CNES/CSG, signed the contract in the presence of ESA Member States’ Delegations to the Launchers Programme Board. From 2009 onward, a family of launchers, composed of Ariane, Vega, and Soyuz, will be operated from CSG under a new legal framework, which includes in particular an agreement between ESA and the French Government on CSG and associated services. Under this agreement, the French Government guarantees to ESA the availability of the CSG launch range for ESA programs and activities and for the exploitation of the aforenamed launchers. The French Government has designated CNES as the authority responsible for the implementation of this guarantee on its behalf by means of the contract just concluded between ESA and CNES. ESA has, since 1975, contributed through such contracts to the upkeep and operating costs of the CSG launch range, ensuring the availability of the range as a key element of guaranteed access to space for Europe.