Rendering of Miura 5 on the pad. Credits: PLD Space

PLD Space will Build the Miura 5 Launch Complex in French Guiana

The Spanish company PLD Space will invests 10 million euros in the construction of the Miura 5 Launch Complex at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana

On June 24, the Spanish company PLD Space announced a major investment of €10 million for constructing the Miura 5 launch site at Europe’s Spaceport, in French Guiana. This is a key step for PLD, which will thus become the first private company to launch from the new commercial launch complex.

Vega and Ariane 5 launch sites at Europe's Spaceport. Credits: ESA/Stephane Corvaja
Vega and Ariane 5 launch sites at Europe’s Spaceport. Credits: ESA/Stephane Corvaja

The company has signed several agreements with the French Space Agency (CNES), the owner of the launch site, for the management of the new infrastructure. This is a major step in strengthening Europe’s capabilities for independent access to space.


Miura 5’s launch site

The PLD launch complex is being constructed at the old ELM-Diamant site, which has been open to private launch providers since 2021 by CNES. Three European companies have already signed agreements for infrastructure construction: Isar Aerospace, Rocket Factory Augsburg (RFA), and PLD.

Rendering of Miura 5 on the pad. Credits: PLD Space
Rendering of Miura 5 on the pad. Credits: PLD Space

The Spanish company will have an area of approximately 16,000 square meters, divided among the launch zone, integration hangar, clean room, control center, and various offices. CNES will provide basic infrastructure such as access roads, electrical connections, and a fire water network. According to PLD, construction will begin after the summer with the ambitious goal of completing the site by mid-2025, aiming for an inaugural flight at the end of 2025.


Europe’s Spaceport

Built by France in the 1960s and managed by CNES and ESA, the site has been used since the 1970s for the launch of the European Ariane family of rockets, produced by ArianeGroup. The ELA-1 (Ensemble de Lancement Ariane) pad was initially used for the Ariane 1, 2, and 3 rockets and has been dedicated, since 2001, to the Vega launchers, developed by the Italian company Avio. The ELA-2 pad hosted the Ariane 4 launcher and ELA-3 the Ariane 5.

ELA-4 will be the launch pad for the future Ariane 6 rocket, scheduled to lift off for the first time on July 9.

Ariane 5 lifting off from Europe's Spaceport, carrying the JUICE mission. Credits: ESA/M. Pédoussaut
Ariane 5 lifting off from Europe’s Spaceport, carrying the JUICE mission. Credits: ESA/M. Pédoussaut

In 2011 ESA opened the ELS (Ensemble de Lancement Soyouz), specifically built for the launch of Russian Soyuz-2 rockets. The partnership between European institutions and Russia allowed for maximizing the Soyuz vehicle’s capabilities due to the equatorial position of the site. Since then, 27 missions have been launched with the Russian launcher from Europe’s Spaceport. However, the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation in 2022 brought Russian operations at the launch complex to a sudden halt.

The pad has been abandoned for the past two years. Recently, CNES published a call to find candidates to use the Soyuz site for new vehicles, with RFA and MaiaSpace being the most likely contenders.


Miura 5

Founded in 2011, PLD Space is developing a small-lift, two-stage rocket capable of launching up to 540 kg of payload into a Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). Miura 5 will be a cutting-edge vehicle in sustainability, featuring the recovery of the first stage and using bio-kerosene (bio RP-1) and liquid oxygen (LOX) in its TEPREL-C engines. The rocket relies on 70% of the technologies already developed and tested with the Miura 1 demonstrator, which was successfully launched in Spain in October 2023.

Rendering of Miura 5's second stage in orbit. Credits: PLD Space
Rendering of Miura 5’s second stage in orbit. Credits: PLD Space

The booster will be propelled by 5 TEPREL-C engines and will be recovered thanks to a parachute-assisted splashdown in the ocean. The second stage will feature a single TEPREL-C vacuum-optimized engine, with an optional kick stage. PLD aims to carry out up to 30 Miura 5 launches per year.


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Francesco Sebastiano Moro

Francesco Sebastiano Moro

Aerospace engineering student at University of Padua, passionate of space and aerospace sector.

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