On Saturday, February 2nd, Arianespace and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) treated us to a delicious Indian buffet lunch cooked by the ISRO team. This is a GSAT tradition and it is one of the highlights of working on the GSAT campaigns: they take time off from their busy schedule and spend the day cooking for us, using ingredients they have brought from India. The Project Manager emphasised in his opening speech that the team members come from all parts of India and the buffet therefore contains parts of all India. If there is one thing I am missing here in Kourou, then it is real Indian food so this was a treat.

On Sunday, I briefly popped into the office to do some advance preparation for the next two weeks. On my way out, I took a snapshot of the flags currently flying at the gate of CNES Centre Technique (Technical Centre). They represent the clients on site today as well as the main actors.

The flags at the gate of CNES Centre Technique (Technical Centre), representing the clients on site today as well as the main actors.

I am fairly certain you can identify the French flag to the left in the picture. Then on the right we have the ESA blue and white flag and the CNES white and blue flag. Both are main actors on site. The other 6 represent India, Greece, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Italy and the United States. Together they represent the upcoming campaigns VA247 (Hellasat-4/SG-1/GSAT-31 on Tuesday), VS21 One-Web later this month, and VV14 PRISMA in the first half of March.

In the background you can distinguish a circle of 22 flagpoles. These are flying the flags of ESA’s 22 member states to symbolise that this is our common spaceport. Further to the left, outside the picture, there is a double row with 28 flags, representing each of the European Union member states.

Everyone driving to the Jupiter Control Room, the museum, Centre Technique (administration and operational buildings of CNES as well as the original Payload Preparation Facilities), the three current launch pads, as well as the other two main payload preparation facilities thus get a daily reminder of the European context as well as the global appeal of Europe’s Spaceport.

Charlotte Beskow

Head of the ESA Space Transportation Office in Kourou