Andøya Rocket Range
Andøya Rocket Range is a rocket launch site and rocket range on Andøya island (the northernmost in the Vesterålen archipelago) in Andøy municipality in northern Norway. Since 1962, over 1,200 sounding rockets of all known configurations have been launched from this site.
Andøya Rocket Range is a civilian facility owned 90% by the Royal Ministry of Trade and Industry, Norway, and 10% by Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. It operates on a commercial basis.
From 1997, a second launch site at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard was established, enabling scientists to launch sounding rocket straight in the polar cusp, where the earth's magnetic field lines converge.
A ground based lidar observatory, ALOMAR (Arctic Lidar Observatory for Middle Atmosphere Research) opened in 1994, and is considered[by whom?] unique in atmospheric research in the Arctic. The range is also host of northern Europe's largest MF-radar.
Andøya Rocket Range has also been involved in building Norway's first student satellites, the nCube satellites, and hosts a number of student activities like the European Space Camp organized by the Norwegian Association of Young Scientists, The Norwegian Centre for Space Related Education, and the Canadian–Norwegian Student Exchange & Rocket Programme (CaNoRock).
In 1995, a sounding rocket launched from Andøya caused a high alert in Russia, known as the Norwegian Rocket Incident. The Russians thought it might be a nuclear missile launched from an American submarine. President Boris Yeltsin was alerted for a possible counter strike, when the Russians understood that it was not heading towards Russia. Press photos of Yeltsin with the launch command briefcase were distributed worldwide. The Russians were informed in advance about the launch by the rocket range personnel, but this information was lost in the Russian military organisation.
Orbital launch plans
Andøya has been proposed as a spaceport for launching orbital Nanosatellite launch vehicles (NLVs). In January 2013, the Nammo company and the Andøya Rocket Range announced that they would be "developing a rocket system called North Star that will use a standardized hybrid motor, clustered in different numbers and arrangements, to build two types of sounding rockets and an orbital launcher" that would be able to deliver a 10 kg (22 lb) nanosat into polar orbit.