Ariane 5 launch of Envisat, artwork. This Ariane 5 rocket's two solid-fuel booster rockets have just separated from the main stage. The rocket's fairing (upper right) contains the Envisat satellite. The Ariane 5 launch system is used by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the French space agency (CNES) to place satellites and other heavy payloads in Earth orbit. This launch took place on 1 March 2002, lifting off from the Guiana Space Centre (Centre Spatial Guyanais), near Kourou, French Guiana. The rocket ascended over the Atlantic Ocean, placing the satellite in a polar orbit. Envisat is an ESA Earth observation satellite.