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SpacePorting - Part II
World Spaceports

Today many countries in addition to the US and Russia, the two Moon race competitors, have vibrant space programs. Europe, in fact, dominates commercial satellite launches with its Ariane rockets launched from Kouru in French Guiana.

China has a large and growing space program and is only the third country in the world to have launched humans into orbit.

Japan has steadily grown its space capabilities, beginning with small sub-orbital rockets in the 1950s. India has developed a robust program of launchers and is developing lunar science missions.

Use the launch schedules here to tim your visit for a launch at a spaceport near you.

Check out also the Spaceport Field Guide from SpaceWorks Enterprises. This on-line interactive Guide includes both government and commercial spaceports and provides status and other information on each. Based on Google Maps, you can zoom in on a spaceport location in both map and satellite views.

Canadian SpacePorts

Canada has a strong history in Space exploration and development, such as its robot arm for the shuttle and the RADARSAT remote sensing satellite. These projects typically involve launchers in other countries.

However, there have been many sounding rockets launched within Canada for scientific studies such as those to examine the aurora borealis. In particular, the Churchill Rocket Research range in Manitoba was active until its closure a decade ago.

There has been an effort to reopen the Churchill range as a commercial launch site but the status of the effort couldn't be determined here.

An amateur groups have also investigated use of the range to fly to fly high power rockets that, for example, will attempt to break the altititude records for amateur rockets.


Russian SpacePorts

Russian, spaceports include the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan (now an independent country), the Plesetsk Cosmodrome north of Moscow, and Kapustin Yar Cosmodrome north of the Caspian Sea.

Baikonur is the site for manned launches and equatorial orbits. The site is now rented from Kazakhstan. Plesetsk is used for polar orbits. Kapustin Yar was an early Soviet missile range and Cosmos launches. There is also Yasny Launch Base , which is used for the Dnepr Launch Vehicle.

Russian Travel Packages
These agencies offer tour packages of Russian spaceports as well as "adventure" experiences such as flying in a MiG fighter:


European SpacePorts

Individual European countries have had a number of spaceports inside and outside of their borders. (See the history of European launch ranges at Rockets in Europe) Britain, for example, had a very active site at Woomera, Australia until the early 1970's. (Britain also once had a small test site for missiles of its southern coast: Needles Rocket Site )

With the creation in the early 1970's of the ESA, European Space Agency, and the development of the Ariane rockets, the Guiana Space Center near Kourou, French Guiana, became the primary launch facility for European payloads to orbital and deep space missions (see the Kourou history).

Suborbital rockets are launched from several European sites including Esrange in Sweden and Andøya in Norway, which are also being investigated for possible polar orbit launches.

Guiana Space Center - French Guiana, Europe's Spaceport
The launch site for the European Ariane vehicles resides in Kouru, French Guiana. Arianespace now launches the majority of commercial spacecraft in the world. See News and Information for the latest news on Ariane launches.

Caribbean Spaceport
A proposal for a spaceport on the Dutch Antillean island of Curacao. The primary use would be for suborbital spaceflight tourism.

Andøya Island, Norway

Credits: Andøya Rocket Range
Impact zone for launches from Andøya Island.

Andøya Rocket Range
Founded in 1962, ARR is the most northern spaceport in the world (69° 12'N, 16° 01'E). They launch sounding rockets and balloons over the arctic area for scientific research in aurora, weather, astronomy, etc. There is also a SpaceCamp program. See a history of Andøya at Rockets in Europe.

Spitsbergen Island
Andøya Rocket Range and the Norwegian Space Centre built a launch facility for scientific rockets at Ny-Ålesund on the island of Spitsbergen, in a project named Svalrak. The island is already used by the Norwegian Polar Institute and the Eiscat Svalbard Radar will give Svalrak technical and scientific support.

Swedish SpacePorts

Spaceport Sweden
A facility in development near Kiruna that would be used for space tourist flights of Virgin Galactic. It is a a co-operative project with Swedish Space Corporation, ICEHOTEL, LFV Group (Luftfartsverket) and Kiruna’s business-development company Progressum.

Esrange Facility
Launch facility in northern Sweden near the mining town of Kiruna. Primarily for sounding rocket studies of the Aurora and other arctic atmospheric and magnetospheric phenomena. See a history of Esrange at Rockets in Europe.

Other European SpacePorts

Arabian SpacePorts

UAE Spaceport
The Space Adventures/Prodea/RSA Explorer consortium will provide suborbital vehicles for this facility. See also the Spaceport Singapore.

African SpacePorts

Japanese SpacePorts

JAXA, the National Space Development Agency of Japan, was created from the combination of two, previously independent space organizations that built rockets and spacecraft:

NASDA (National Space Development Agency of Japan) is responsible for practical applications of space, e.g. weather satellites, communications satellites, etc. They funded the development of the HA-II rocket that roughly parallels the capabilities of the Ariane 4 and Delta III rockets.

ISAS (Agency for Space and Aeronautical Research) is a university based group that concentrates on scientific research. It was born as an institute within the University of Tokyo but was reorganized as a multi-university organization. NASDA uses the Tanegashima Space Center for its launches while ISAS uses Kagoshima.

Here is a listing and map of JAXA facilites.

Commercial spaceport projects have not yet made much progress in Japan.

NASDA Tanegashima Space Center

Credits: Tanegashima Space Center

Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan launches spacecraft for NASDA, the Japanese space agency for commercial and governmental space development.

Credits: Tanegashima Space Center
Map of the Tanegahima Space Center.

Tanegashima Space Center
JAXA, the Japanese space agency, uses the Tanegashima Space Center for launching its spacecraft. Tanegashima welcomes visitors and rocket launch observers.

ISAS Kagoshima Space Center

KSC was founded in 1962 in Uchinoura on the east coast of Ohsumi Peninsula, Kagoshima Prefecture. The hilly site has developed extensive facilities with launch pads, telemetry, tracking and command stations, and optical observations posts. Over 300 rockets have been launched since 1962.

I've only found this short page on KSC so far at the ISAS site. I've not found any info yet on tourist facilities or launch viewing opportunities.

China SpacePorts

Chinese spaceports include:

Western commercial satellites are now frequently launched by Chinese rockets and employees of the payload companies get invited to the launches.

The three current Chinese spaceports are in the interior of the country and have been enveloped in military like secrecy. There is very limited access by civilians, Chinese or foreigners. The launch facilities are not in unpopulated areas and, in fact, the authorities have been trying to encourage people to move out of areas under the flight paths. In one of the few known cases of a rocket failure causing civilian deaths, a Long March in 1996 crashed into a village near the launch site.

The new spaceport on Wenchang, however, will be much more open. There will even be a nearby space theme park.

Chinese Launch Facilities - Dragon in Space
Go Taikonauts  provides lots of info on the Chinese space program. This page lists the primary Chinese launch facilities.

China Academy of Lanch Vehicle Technology
An official Chinese site that describes the Chinese launch services, history of the Long March rockets, news, etc.

Other East Asia Spaceports

Spaceport Singapore
The Space Adventures/Prodea/RSA Explorer consortium will provide suborbital vehicles for this facility. The spaceport will also provide a space Zero-G flights, hight altitude jet flights, and other space related attractions. See also the UAE Spaceport.


South Korea


India has a vigorous space program despite limited resources. It's programs illustrate just how important space is for developing countries. India's PSLV launcher put its remote sensing satellite IRS-1D into polar orbit in 1997. The GSLV launcher will put satellites into geostationary orbit.

Its remote sensing satellites provide details on agricultural conditions, forestry, urban development, etc. Communications satellites provide a quick and cheap way to bring telephony and TV to remote areas.

Sriharikota Range (SHAR)
Sriharikota Rocket Range (SHAR) on the southeast coast of India, north of Chennai, is its primary launch site. The India Space Research Organization (ISRO) launches orbital and sounding rockets from this site.

Space Centers
This page at the Bharat Rakshak - Indian Space Section describes the India space facilities and launch sites.

South America
Kourou, French Guiana
This European owned facility is described above.

Centre de Lancamento de Alcântara, Brazil
The Brazilian space agency has used this site for sub-orbital rocket launches.

Other Countries:


Sea Launch
In 1999 a collaboration led by Boeing will bring a floating launch pad, built from a oil drilling platform, from Long Beach, California to a point a 1500 miles south of Hawaii to send commercial payloads to orbit.

Perhaps if you are sailing around the Pacific you might cruise over to watch a launch. (It's in international waters so they can't bother you.)

Australian SpacePorts

Asia Pacific Space Centre
The International Resource Corporation (IRC) proposed to locate its Asia Pacific Space Launch Center on Christmas Island, also called Kiritimati. (This is also where the Bounty mutineers took refuge.) It is close to the equator where rockets can obtain maximum boost from the earth's rotation.

In the 1960s the European Launcher Development Organization (ELDO) began development of the Europa launcher there but moved to Kourou, French Guiana in June 1970.

Only two satellites were ever launched from Woomera: the Australian WRESAT was launched in 1967 on a U.S. Redstone and in the British Prospero on a British launcher.

Britain ended its operations at Woomera in 1976. Some sounding rocket launches have occured there. Recently, the Japanese tested the glide landing capabilities of the unmanned AFLEX lifting body, a precurser to their HOPE reusable space vehicle.

Kistler Aerospace planned to use this site in south Australia as its initial testing ground for its K-1 reusable 2-stage vehicle. This area was originally developed by Britain and Australia in 1947 and was used to test missiles. It was hoped that Kistler wouldrevive Woomera. Kistler in July 1998 announced the groundbreaking but funding problems in 1999 left the project unfinished.

Other Woomera resources:


The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey
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