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PLD Space to operate from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana

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  • PLD Space has signed a binding contract with the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) to launch its MIURA 5 micro-launcher from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG).
  • With this agreement, PLD Space becomes one of the few operators that will be able to launch from Kourou. 
  • This location is highly sought after by PLD Space's clients. Decades of experience and the ability to reach any orbit are among the big advantages of this spaceport. 

 

Paris. 21 June 2023. PLD Space, a company that designs, develops, manufactures and operates Europe's first private micro-launcher, has been selected to launch its MIURA 5 orbital launcher from Europe’s Spaceport located to the northwest of Kourou (French Guiana).  

The binding agreement signed with the French Space Agency (CNES), grants the Company permission to initiate the negotiation process for the development phase of the MIURA 5 launcher from the ELM-Diamant launch base at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG). PLD Space thus becomes one of the few private operators that will be able to operate from this historic spaceport. 

Raúl Verdú, Chief Business Development Officer and co-founder of PLD Space, said: "This agreement is further proof of the company's unquestionable leadership in this segment at a time when Europe needs it most thanks to its consolidated track record. It also validates PLD Space's value proposition in the market".  

 

A highly demanding approval process  

In 2021, CNES announced that it would make the ELM-Diamant site available for micro-launchers in order to increase European access to space. Since then, the company has been involved in a highly demanding accreditation process.  

In this sense, PLD Space has been selected after having passed a rigorous technical assessment of the MIURA 5 project, which covers the analysis of issues related to the design and development logic of the rocket, launch operations, facilities, financial soundness as well as safety considerations. Upon its conclusion, CNES informed PLD Space that the audit had been positively evaluated and its outcome formalised through the signature of a binding contract (Binding Term Sheet, BTS) between the parties. 

PLD Space has always chosen CSG as the main launch site for MIURA 5 because of its experience, reliability and versatility. "It is a port that has been in operation since 1968, where Ariane and Vega are currently launched," adds PLD Space co-founder and CEO Raúl Torres. "Additionally, it offers the possibility of sending satellites to multiple different orbits. 

 

The agreement's commitments 

The signed Binding Term Sheet (BTS) commits both entities to a number of conditions. On the one hand, CNES will provide the common resources for the MIURA 5 launch operations, such as road access, electricity supply, fire water network and control of access to the complex. In addition, the agency will make available to PLD Space a specific area of the GSC where the launch base of the Spanish micro-launcher will be located. 

For its part, PLD Space will be responsible for the development of the specific means necessary for the integration, test and launch operations of MIURA 5 from the GSC base. In order to be able to operate from the spaceport, a new infrastructure dedicated to the MIURA 5 launch system will need to be developed.  

PLD Space will have a large area divided between the launch base itself and a preparation zone, which will include the integration hangar, a clean room, the control centre and the commercial and work offices. CNES has already set in motion the process related to civil works activities and PLD Space will begin development of its own platform in 2024.  

 

The MIURA family, key to increasing European access to space 

PLD Space is immersed in the launch of the first MIURA 1 SN1 experimental flight; the first private micro launcher developed in Europe, which had to be postponed last June 17th after the countdown had reached zero due to a failure in the release of all the umbilical cables in the avionics bay. The rocket has been fully designed by PLD Space as a technology demonstrator with recovery and reusability requirements that only 3 companies have achieved in space history.  

This first suborbital flight is a turning point for the development of the MIURA 5 microsatellite launcher, as the MIURA 1 SN1 mission will provide the opportunity for validation of much of the design and technology that will serve as the basis for the development of the MIURA 5 orbital launcher, whose maiden flight is scheduled for 2025. The company has already started the manufacturing of some of its subsystems, which are already being tested in the company's 100,000 m2 test facilities at Teruel Airport. 

 

 

About PLD Space  

PLD Space is a leading reference in the aerospace sector and the first to develop a private rocket in Europe. Headquartered in Elche (Alicante), PLD Space designs, develops, manufactures and operates reusable orbital launchers that send small satellites into space in the form of the suborbital MIURA 1 and the orbital MIURA 5.  

PLD Space was founded in 2011 by Raúl Torres and Raúl Verdú with the aim of increasing European access to space. Currently, the company -which has obtained more than 65 million in funding to date- has a workforce of more than 120 professionals distributed in three centres located in Elche, Teruel and Huelva, with a total of more than 20,000 m2 of industrial facilities.   

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