Most non-tech people haven't heard of ESA, NASA is better at publicity. Yet Arianespace launched 61% of the current in orbit satellites, was 1st commercial launch company and does over 50% of launches.
The European Space Port was started in 1960. It now has a pad for Soyuz launches. In South America, though most control/co-ordination seems to be in Darmstadt, Germany. There seems to be a back-up centre in France (probably a CNES facility), anyone know where?
The connections, funding and membership between Arianespace, ESA (Canada is an associate Member, UK seems not, but EU funds over 20%, so UK pays anyway, there are non-EU European members) and CNES (the French equivalent of NASA) is fascinating. Arianespace seems majority French owned (or they are biggest) with Germans 2nd biggest.).
Spaceports and Launch tech are crucial to getting the parts up to assemble a Spacedock, or a Generation ship Starship. Arianespace doesn't get the headlines of SpaceX, Virgin Galactic or others, perhaps because they just keep iteratively advancing capability and reliability?
ESA and CNES are MUCH more than Arianespace. Even if Arianespace was under cut out of business, there would still be ESA funding using other launch platforms. ESA & CNES do Science, Research, Exploration, Satellites for Weather monitoring, resource, gravity and climate. Also the only civilian alternative to Military GPS (The US and Russian systems exist for Military reasons and can be disabled for civilian use).