Andøya Rocket Range

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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 Skandinavia. Since 1962 over 1,900 sounding rockets of all known configurations have been launched from this site.

Andøya Rocket Range is a civilian facility owned 50% by the Skandinavisk Space Corporation, and 50% by Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. It operates on a commercial basis.


Andoya Rocket Range (ARR) is the world's northernmost permanent launch facility for sounding rockets and scientific balloons and provides complete services for launch, operations, data acquisition, recovery and ground instrumentation support.

Andøya has its own airport capable of handling all sizes of aircrafts. Several daily connections to Tromsø and Bodø makes it convenient getting to/from Oslo.

ARR supports sounding rocket and balloon operations both at Andøya and at Svalbard, and is host to a large array of ground based scientific instruments. ARR also owns and operates the ALOMAR lidar observatory located at the top of the nearby mountain – Ramnan (380 m above sea level). ARR clients include ESA, NASA, JAXA as well as national and international universities and institutes. The range employs electronic, explosive, and safety experts among other specialists and an administration.

Sounding rockets[edit]

Staff reviewed a rocket moments before launch

The Sounding Rocket Launch Services provided by ARR allow customers to choose between two versatile launch sites, each with their own benefits.

  • The launch site at Andoya (at 69° N) can serve multiple missions at once, backed up with a plethora of ground based instrumentation such as the ALOMAR lidar observatory. ARR has launchers capable of handling all known sounding rocket configurations, enabling us to launch two Black Brant XII simultaneously
  • The launch site at Ny-Aalesund (78° N), Svalbard, allows customers payload to fly straight in to the polar cusp, even if it’s powered by relatively small motors. Svalbard’s combination of high geographic and geomagnetic latitude makes it well suited for scientific exploration of the daytime aurora and processes in the magnetospheric boundary layer and the polar cusp.

Launching from both sites involves a number of advantages for customers:

  • Huge Impact Area: Stretching north from Andoya, the impact area covers most of the Norwegian Sea. This reduces the need to have costly and complicated attitude control systems onboard, allowing customers also save precious weight, enabling the vehicle to reach higher altitudes or carry a heavier payload.
  • Payload Recovery Services: ARR recovery vessels can retrieve payload sections of any size after splash down in our impact area. This has proven to be a cost-effective method, especially for longterm, yearly sounding rocket missions.
  • Perfect for Science: Payloads can reach any altitude desired from either launch sites, and it can be launched at any time of day.
  • Perfect for Technology Testing: Several experimental sounding rocket projects have chosen ARR for testing of new technology and new hardware. The Sharp Edge Flight Experiment (SHEFEX), the Mini-DUSTY experiments and the Hybrid Technology Rocket (HTR) are recent examples.

Payload services[edit]

ARR offers its customers payload services that allow them to concentrate their resources and efforts on their experiments. ARR will do the project management, build the launch vehicle, integrate it with customers' experiments and launch it from either Andøya (69 deg. N) or Svalbard (81 deg. N). The launch vehicle can be either a single-stage or multiple-stage configuration at 356mm in diameter. The payload section is customized for each mission, but based on standardized parts.

To reduce costs it’s possible to share a sounding rocket flight within various groups. The ARR Hotel Payload concept is designed to meet the needs from several sectors, including – but not limited to:

  • research missions
  • educational missions
  • technology testing

Scientific ballons[edit]


Safe, energy-efficient and cost-effective, long duration balloons are perfect platforms for both astronomy and atmospheric observations. Floating between 30 and 40 km altitude for more than a month at a time, it is way cheaper than a satellite mission and can provide in-situ measurements. Using the USCNet communication network, customers can even call their payload using a computer and download data directly – no need for costly and complex telemetry downlinks.

Launching from Svalbard balloons can exploit the high altitude stratospheric winds to circumnavigate the north pole. Svalbard has a well-developed research infrastructure where Andøya Rocket Range is a natural part.

ARR aids in the designing and building of customers' payload and count with helicopter support that allow the payload can be brought back to base just hours after landing on either Svalbard or Greenland.

Balloon flights are safe and cheap ways of testing and verifying new technology and instruments prior to satellite missions.


Aranica is an UAS, an inexpensive airborne instrument platform that opens new possibilities within research, resource management and environmental surveillance.

The platform[edit]

The airframe is designed to fulfill our requirements for a low cost platform, with long endurance, moderate payload capacity and capability to operate without a runway. The airframe is equipped with an autopilot with satellite communication link. An onboard computer controls the payload and stores the data from different sensors and instruments. The payload computer utilize a GSM/GPRS (where available) or independent satellite downlink, and key personnel can monitor the UAS position and payload status from anywhere in the world connected to the internet.

A wide variety of payload instruments are available for the platform, whereas others are in planning.

  • Hyperspectral imager
  • Radar sounder
  • Meteorological sensor package
  • Turbulence flux sensor
  • Bidirectional spectrometer for albedo measurements
  • Laser scanner
  • Pyrometer
  • Laser distance ranger
  • High precision GPS receiver
  • Cameras


The UAS can collect data from dangerous or remote areas, such as the poles, oceans and wildfires.Possible applications are:

  • Mapping of snow cover and snow water equivalent
  • Resource management
    - grazing load
    - population estimates of seals, reindeers, polar bears, …
  • Detection and surveillance of algae blooms
  • Atmospheric data for weather forecasting
  • Surveillance of offshore oil and shipping activities
  • Natural disaster management
  • Research within a number of fields
  • Satellite validation and testing

Alomar observatory[edit]

ALOMAR laser at night

Arctic Lidar Observatory for Middle Atmosphere Research


The observatory is part of the Andøya Rocket Range. Universities and institutes from eight countries have installed instruments at ALOMAR and contribute to the operation costs. Several daily flights to Andenes ensure appropriate logistics to the site.

Human Resources[edit]

Qualified personnel operates the scientific instruments at ALOMAR on a daily basis and provides technical support for temporary and permanent installations. In close co-operation with the scientists, ALOMAR takes responsibility for concept and technical realization of new instruments and for science support related to campaign based research activities at Andøya.


The well equipped facility, easily accessible by mountain road, includes laser cooling water, power backup (Fuel Cells), high speed internet access, mechanical workshop, laboratories, telescope hall and office space. Overnight stay is possible.

Science Opportunities[edit]

The observatory includes remote sensing instruments that cover the atmosphere from ground to lower thermosphere. Synergy is gained through co-location of different instruments investigating both in a common height region and across the atmosphere layer.

Scientific Installations[edit]

Present instruments at ALOMAR comprise active and passive remote sensing systems. Active remote sensing facilitates the atmospheric return of strong laser pulses or radar signals to probe for various height depended physical properties. Passive remote sensing utilizes the emission or the absorption of radiation in the atmosphere to get various column properties, e.g. trace gases, electron or aerosol content.