Did you know that most of the European Space Agency's (ESA)rockets are launched from French Guiana? You may ask why would the ESA launch in French Guiana, far away from Europe. Keep reading and I will tell you why.
Most rockets are launched near the equator because the earth spins faster on the equator and launching near it gives a slingshot effect which helps the rocket leave orbit. French Guiana is at about 5 degrees north (300 miles from the equator). Another reason the ESA launches from FG is it is near the ocean and that is important in case they need to abort the mission. Lastly French Guiana is mostly jungle and sparsely populated so it is easier to find a 10 mile radius of land free of people to launch from.
The space center in French Guiana has three launch pads and three types of rockets. All three types of rockets are made by the Russians. Two of the three rockets can be used for manned missions. The ESA launches 12 or 13 rockets a year from French Guiana and sometimes the Americans launch from FG. The space center has been in French Guiana since the 1960's even before there was a European Union. France chose the site as their space center because they owned the land and had used it as a prison in the century before.
On May 24th, at 5:48am, my family and I saw Soyouz flight 15 launch. Children are not allowed within 20 km of the launch pad because of the risk of toxic gases. Since it was cloudy we could not see the beginning of the launch because we were 20 km away, but we did see the rocket a few seconds later as it crossed the sky towards its orbit. It looked like a big missile. We could just see the boosters fall off with the naked eye. Once the boosters fell off, we lost sight of the rocket. The rocket was bringing two navigational satellites into space to help the Europeans start a GPS system.
The following pages chronicle the journey of the sailing vessel Pelagic and her crew. We are a family of 5; Michael, Amy, Zander, Porter and Anakena, taking our 42' Hallberg Rassy as far as we can comfortably go in three years. We left Oregon in September 2014, participated in the 2014 Baja Haha, continued on through the Panama Canal, into the Caribbean, up the coast of the US to Maritime Canada and from there crossed the Atlantic. After an arrival in Ireland we toured Scotland, then sailed down to France, Portugal and on to Morocco. In January of 2016 we slowed down considerably and enrolled the kids in a local Spanish school in Sanlucar de Guadiana for a few months. In the spring of 2016 we crossed the Atlantic towards the Caribbean. We are now in the Pacific, officially on our way home, albeit via a very circuitous path. We are currently in French Polynesia and looking at weather windows to Hawaii before finally making landfall back in the Pacific Northwest.
Currently our exact location is not available. Our spot coverage will pick us back up in Hawaii towards the end of May, 2017.
Our favorite sailing quote:
"If anythings gonna happen, it's gonna happen out there boss!" Captain Ron