Supervision of the Ariane 6 rocket launch site excavation in French Guiana

SOCOTEC supervises initial excavation of the Ariane 6 rocket launch site in French Guiana


Project: Initial earthworks for Ariane 6 rocket launch site and infrastructure
Date: Since 1998
Client: CNES 
Size: General earthwork excavation on virgin ground with a surface area of 200 Ha
Place: Kourou, French Guiana, South America
Contact: Philippe Grandvillain, Arnaud De Pracomtal


SOCOTEC, the leading international company in risk management and technical advice in construction and infrastructure sectors, was responsible for quality control during earthwork excavations for the Ariane 6 rocket launch site in Kourou, French Guiana.

The rocket launch site includes the launch pad, the assembly of the rocket’s different components, storage buildings and all necessary roads and networks, which must be able to function while dry, wet or under pressure. The first step of this project consisted of excavating virgin ground with a total surface area of 200 hectares.


The objective of this first phase of the project was to construct building platforms and roadways and provide a functional drainage system for the site. This would enable and facilitate construction of the launch site’s core infrastructure.

The work entailed moving 1,000,000m3 of earth and treating 250,000m3 of this soil with a hydraulic binder. SOCOTEC’s services and expertise included establishing quality control for the project, monitoring and reporting, and providing validation during the acceptance of work phase of the project. They also handled resetting and forecast completion of work based on in-situ criteria. Furthermore, the team also led site meetings and prepared reports.

SOCOTEC followed up on the production of instructional documents for execution and validation of the work completed with Eiffage, the construction company responsible for the work. They also made adaptation recommendations on site with Eiffage in regard to their project management and geotechnical missions.

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Operations Director, Infrastructure, SOCOTEC France

Operations Director, Infrastructure, SOCOTEC France
"CNES has chosen to renew its confidence in us mainly because of the quality of the existing team, which has experience in the fields of aerospace, structures, all trades, fluids and welding. Our team is extensively involved on the Ariane 6 project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2020 with a first test launch planned for the end of the same year."

Philippe Granvillain, Operations Director SOCOTEC Infrastructures

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