I was going through the list of European rocket launch sites on Wikipedia, and I can't find a single reference for an orbited satellite launched from any of them. Honestly, I wasn't even aware of most of the launch sites listed, even if they're marked as still operational.

I found some sounding rocket launches, like for example from Esrange in Kiruna, Sweden. Or test firings of Zefiro 9 rocket engine for Arianespace Vega launch vehicle at Salto di Quirra, Italy. Or launches of suborbital rockets for atmospheric soundings from El Arenosillo, Spain. Or...

   Andøya Rocket Range

   Andøya Rocket Range, Andøya island, Norway launched since 1962 over 1,200 sounding rockets (Source: Wikipedia)

But none of these are actually orbited spacecraft, reaching at least Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) altitudes at velocities to stay in orbit. Individual European private enterprises, space agencies, and also as members of the European Space Agency (ESA), have of course launched into Earth's orbit and beyond multitude of spacecraft and satellites. But...

Have Europeans, excluding the west Russia that still geographically belongs to the European subcontinent, launched a single satellite launch vehicle from the territory of Europe? If there were any, which one was the last, from where, and what orbit did it achieve?

  • $\begingroup$ Although that is a picture of the Andøya offices, it doesn't show the launch pad. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Jan 18, 2019 at 17:41

2 Answers 2


I've studied this out, and found a few additional close calls. But there hasn't been any launches out of Europe itself, except for Russia. This is probably because Europe is too population dense to make a launch safe. Some information taken from Gunter's space page.

  • France has launched from Centre interarmées d’essais d’engins spéciaux (CIEES), Hammaguir, Algeria (Ha)
  • Italy has launched from the San Marco Platform, located near Kenya.

However, only Russia can claim to have launched from Europe itself to orbit.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Did Russia launch into orbit from the European part of Russia, not from the Asian part? $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Jan 18, 2019 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ Esrange (Sweden) has enough empty land around it for orbital launches, and has indeed had many suborbital launches, and there are plans for orbital launches. $\endgroup$
    – gerrit
    Jan 18, 2019 at 17:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Uwe It depends on where you draw the line, but I would argue that all launch sites are in the Eastern (Asia) side of Russia. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Jan 18, 2019 at 18:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @PearsonArtPhoto: Plesetsk and Kapustin Yar belong to European part of Russia. $\endgroup$ Aug 27, 2020 at 14:51

During the time of USSR, Bulgaria participated in a space program Soyuz 33. Then the Bulgarian cosmonaut Georgi Ivanov together with his Russian colleague Nikolai Rukavishnikov were launched into space in 1979.

The scientific program for the flight was prepared entirely by Bulgarian scientists, along with some of the equipment

as said per Wikipedia.

The launch was successful, however, a severe technical problem prevented success of the entire mission as the space craft had to return back to Earth.

Having in mind this was not a successful operation, I am not sure if it answers your question, but the information might seem curious and probably less known. Besides, I am a Bulgarian :)

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Interesting yes, but it was launched off Baikonur Cosmodrome, Site 1, which technically isn't on the continent of Europe any more. Which is what my question was. There were numerous launches of satellites, spacecraft and even crew that were managed entirely by countries from the European continent, launched from Russia, Kazakhstan, United States, or French Guiana, to name a few countries ESA and individual space agencies of Europe launched from. ;) $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Dec 2, 2013 at 15:09
  • $\begingroup$ @TildalWave, sorry, I seem to have missed the part for the launch itself to have also happened on the territory of Europe, my bad. $\endgroup$ Dec 2, 2013 at 17:44

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