Friday, December 16, 2016

YOLO visits Kourou, Fr Guiana Sep-Oct 2016

We had to go see a rocket launch when we were here in French Guiana.  Kourou is the site of three launch pads for rockets to launch into space.  Mostly satellites these days.  Anyone who can pay for a rocket can launch it from here.  We visited the visitor's center and Jason took a free tour of the site.  I was left behind as I didn't have my original passport and the office claimed they never got the reservation the Office of Tourism in SLM supposedly made and confirmed for us.  This is just a photo on the wall of the visitor center.  The museum was closed for rewiring, so I sat bored for hours while Jason viewed the grounds.

One of my favorite views of the rocket exhaust contrail.
One of the launch towers at Kourou.
A cooling tower that dumps water onto the launch site when a rocket is fired off.
Another photo showing a typical rocket launch.
 A Russian launch pad for their Soyuz rockets.

A launch tower in the distance.  A launch was scheduled for two days later so they didn't let anyone get close to anything around here.
The tiny marina facility at Kourou is in the Kourou River.  This little boat had been there a while and didn't look like it was going anywhere soon.
We walked down the dock at the marina to see if we knew any boats, but didn't recognize anyone.
The little marina was filled with many local boats and tour operators that take folks out to  the Iles du Salut/Devil's Island for tours.
The fisherman on the dock had just caught this catfish.  Yum, I like catfish.
We stopped at Sinnamary on the way back, but the only feature about the place seemed to be this bridge over the water.
This cute church was also a quaint view in Sinnamary.
The riverfront view from the bridge.
Jason looking up the river from the bridge.
Vesna and Anton from the Slovakian boat Mala took the trip to see a rocket launch with us.
A huge fire burning along the road as we drove from SLM to Kourou.  Almost every day, we'd see a huge column of smoke like this from the boat.  We think it may be sugar cane fields being burned for harvest, but nobody ever seemed to know.
This old house stood just alongside the road to Kourou.  I liked the look of the old multi-colored shutters and the dilapidated structure and had Anton stop for photos.
 Earlier attempts to get a picture as we sped by in the car or bus made the building look like it was leaning.
The view of the building from its end.  It was just standing all alone along the road.
The back of the building.
Under the back porch, we discovered dozens of wasp's nests, all swarming with wasps.  We snapped our photos and fled quickly.
A statue of a scarlet ibis on a roundabout on the road near Kourou.
The giant bicycle on the edge of the photo was another roundabout sculpture here.
The site for watching the rocket launch is on top of Kourou's highest hill.  This is the path we had to climb to get there.  Steep and hot going to reach the top.
The view from the top, looking out towards the launch sites.
The rocket we watched was carrying the Sky Muster II and GSAT 18 satellites for deployment in their orbits.  The site had closed circuit live feeds of the rocket launch pad for us to watch if we wanted a closer up view.
The rocket launch viewing site in Kourou.  The launch was scheduled for 5:30 pm local time.
Jason, Anton and Vesna waiting for launch time to arrive.
Karen at the sign for the spaceport launch site at Kourou.
Countries in Europe, Russia and Japan launch rockets from here.  A rocket launches approximately every two weeks from here.
Waiting at the launch viewing site.
A video of the readying of the satellite to be carried on the rocket we watched fire into space.
Most of the crowd of watchers was white.
That tiny white dot in the center is the rocket at takeoff.  We were several kilometers from the launch pad.
You can see the rocket fire as she took off.

We watched the rocket and its contrail until it disappeared.  That only took a few minutes!
The contrail from the rocket exhaust made some dramatic lines in the sky.
Up, up and away.
Curly cue white exhaust.
You can see how the wind wiggles around in the upper atmosphere,
Then it just disappeared when the boosters separated.
The setting sun made the contrail into just some more grey clouds as it blew apart.
Military helicopters full of men hanging out the doors buzzed the viewing site.

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