Category: Sub-Orbital

  • New launch pad progressing

    Andøya Space Sub-Orbital is currently building a new launch pad for sounding rockets in order to handle multiple rocket launches in the same launch campaign.

    – Sounding rockets have grown in sizes in the past few years, and we needed to bolster our ability to handle not only that, but also multiple rockets in the same launch campaign, says Hans-Arne Eilertsen, project manager for the new launch pad.

    Andøya Space Sub-Orbital has been hosting many campaigns involving multiple launches, not only from Andøya, but Svalbard as well.

    – Such as the combined Trice-2 and Visions campaigns, two Nasa campaigns where Trice-2 launched two sounding rockets from Andøya, and then Visions launched two rockets from our launch site at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, just a few minutes later, says Eilertsen.

    Launching multiple research rockets to different altitude regions of the atmosphere, allows the scientists to get simultaneous measurements, providing better insights into the physical processes in the atmosphere.

    – Andøya Space Sub-Orbital really is just about the only place in the world where you can perform these massive research campaigns that focus on the highly interesting Cusp-region, says Eilertsen.

    The Cusp-region refers to an area of the magnetosphere, where it creates a funnel down to Earth’s center. Andøya Space Sub-Orbital’s launch sites on Andøya and Svalbard are the only way for sounding rockets to do measurements inside that funnel.

    Illustration of Earth’s magnetosphere and the cusp regions.

    The new launch pad is completely made in Norway.

    – The planning phase was done by Polarkonsult from Harstad, the retractable shelter has been built by Karstein Kristiansen, a local contractor, says Eilertsen. – And the steerable launch rail is being built by Oil-Tech AS in Stavanger. When complete, it will be one of the world’s most modern and capable launch pads for sounding rockets.

    Photo: Oil-Tech AS.

    The new launch pad is also well suited for technology testing and
    demonstration missions.

    – Those missions aren’t necessarily all about reaching space, and might prefer to launch in lower elevations, which this new launch pad will be able to accommodate.

    – The work is progressing according to plan, says Eilertsen. – We aim to be ready to host the first launch campaigns already this fall.


    – We’re also building this new launch pad to fulfill our obligations in the EASP-agreement, says Kolbjørn Blix, VP of Andøya Space Sub-Orbital. – It’s an agreement between five European countries, where Andøya Space is committed to providing suborbital launch capabilities.

    – Two of the suborbital launch pads at Andøya are reserved for Nasa use only, which currently leaves only one pad available for European missions. Building this new launch pad will enable us to support more complex non-Nasa missions in the future, Blix finishes.

    Read more about the EASP-agreement.

    About Andøya Space Sub-Orbital

    Andøya Space Sub-Orbital is a business division of Andøya Space focusing on providing a launch site and related services for suborbital research rockets. Andøya Space Sub-Orbital have two launch sites, one on Andøya and one at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard. The business division also offers advanced engineering services. In addition, the division operates the Alomar Observatory, and is host for several scientific ground-based instruments.

    More information

    For more information, contact Andøya Space Sub-Orbital

  • Inspection at 78° North

    We in Andøya Space Sub-Orbital (ASO) are currently even further north than we normally are when we are at home on Andøya. Since Monday this week, Kolbjørn Blix, Thomas Gansmoe and Hans Arne Eilertsen have been present in Ny-Ålesund on Svalbard for meetings with Kings Bay, which manages and runs the community up here on behalf of the Norwegian Polar Institute.

    We also have internal tasks as part of the visit by conducting an inspection of our infrastructure used for the launch of scientific rockets.

    The meetings with Kings Bay have dealt with several topics such as the long-term contract between Andøya Space – Kings Bay, which sets guidelines for the services ASO needs for local crews and the prices of these over the next few years.

    Possible benefits and opportunities for discounts are of course important topics. Furthermore, there has been a review of Prop. 47 L (2023–2024), amendments to the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act (protection of seabirds and polar bears, violation fees, clean-up, etc.) to see if and how it could affect ASO’s operations up here.

    A rocket launches from a launch pad at Svalbard.
    Lift-off from the MML-launcher. Photo: Brian Bonsteel, NASA

    Another important part of the visit has been to visit the so-called “MML launcher” that was built as a supplement to our original launcher up here. MML became a necessity in order to implement the Grand Challenge Initiative CUSP project in the period 2018-2021, and was built as a collaboration between NASA and Andøya Space.

    The shelter is of a temporary nature and has a time-limited permit from the Governor of Svalbard, which means that the work of either renovating or converting to a permanent solution must start now. Here, Kings Bay is an important co-player, advisor and case officer before the case ends up back in the Governor’s office.

    More information

    For more information, contact Andøya Space Sub-Orbital

  • A space talk with Laura-Kristin Scholtz: Women in science

    February 11th is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and we used the occasion to talk with Laura-Kristin Scholtz, a mechanical engineer who works as a project manager at Andøya Space Sub-Orbital.

    Andøya Space is a company which empowers scientists in their research, by enabling them to launch research rockets, perform remote sensing and providing other types of technical support.

    To do that our engineers need to employ many of the same principles as the scientists themselves: observation, experimentation and analysis to create solutions that sometimes have to function under extreme conditions. This work involves data collection, critical thinking, collaboration and a systematic approach. When we meet with Laura-Kristin, she’s busy doing just that.

    Can you tell us a little bit about what you are working on right now?

    – I am currently working with the development of a scientific instrument called «Holoscene», she says. – As it is under development there are always new issues coming up which need a solution. For example, I am currently designing special tools to mount and de-mount parts in the instrument, that cannot be reached otherwise. To solve some of the problems, I need to do some research first and learn about new topics, to find different possibilities and decide what to do.

    What motivated you to pursue a career within engineering?

    – I played a lot with Lego and specifically Lego Technic as a child, Scholtz says. – And I wanted to understand why planes fly. Also, I loved going to the technical museum in Munich called «Deutsches Museum», where I was especially impressed by the science shows, and the displays of cut-open machines, engines, or bridge parts to see the inside and how they work.

    – Growing up in the 90s and early 2000s, I didn’t have the feeling, that I couldn’t choose whatever I wanted to do in my life. So, I wasn’t afraid to start studying engineering.

    A portrait of Laura-Kristin Scholtz in front of her current project.
    Laura-Kristin Scholtz and the project she’s working on, Holoscene.

    Was it a popular study with other women?

    – We were 10% female (of 1 400 students) when I started studying mechanical engineering. Only when I did my compulsory 8-week internship (pre-internship for studying mechanical engineering) in a small metal workshop, I sometimes got curious questions from external people. However, my colleagues always defended me and women in general working as craftsmen, saying «You don’t need to be strong or tall as a craftsman, you just need the right tools».

    How can we all inspire the next generation of female engineers and encourage more women to join the field?

    – To inspire the next generation of female engineers, we have to make them curious about all the engineering and science which surrounds us, Scholtz says.

    – Basically, everything that surrounds us has some kind of engineering involved, this could be automated production machines for things that we use on a daily basis or ergonomics engineering for the design of everyday tools like pens or chairs or computer keyboards.

    – How we should encourage them – by showing them and by letting them try and fail and try again, until they find a solution, Scholtz finishes.

    More information

    For more information, contact Andøya Space Sub-Orbital

  • Tracking satellite orbits

    Andøya Space Sub-Orbital is currently working together with the Norwegian Mapping Authority on a project funded by the Norwegian Space Agency that aims to track objects in polar orbits. Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST) is an important tool in the satellite age.

    – The last decade has seen a huge increase in the number of satellites orbiting the Earth, says Martin Flügge, Director Ground-Based Instrumentation at Andøya Space Sub-Orbital.  – And it is especially in the smallest segment that the increase has been greatest, so-called small satellites.

    Illustration of the Norwegian satellite Norsat-1.
    Illustration of the Norwegian satellite Norsat-1 in orbit

    – Norway also have a fleet of small satellites which perform important functions for us. The challenge all satellites have is that they themselves do not know whether they are on a collision course with other satellites or space debris. Satellites orbit at speeds of over 7.8 km/s. This speed holds so much energy that satellites simply explode in a debris cloud consisting of thousands of small pieces no larger than a few centimeters when they collide with each other or with space junk, says Flügge.

    – Knowing which satellites are where and at what time is therefore extremely important, and in technical terms this is divided into two areas: Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Space Surveillance and Tracking (SST). This particular project runs under SST.

    Tracking satellites and space debris can be done in two ways, either actively or passively.

    – Active tracking means that we use a radar or lidar that sends out its signals and receives echoes from things that are in orbit. Passive tracking is done using cameras that simply take pictures of the starry sky and analyse what was taken pictures of.

    Andøya Space owns a very advanced radar that can be able to map objects in orbit down to a few centimeters in size.

    – But the use of radars is very expensive, says Flügge. – That’s why we’re starting at the passive end, using camera systems that will initially be placed at Ny-Ålesund and Andøya.

    The project is a collaboration between Andøya Space and the Norwegian Mapping Authority and has been awarded funding from the Norwegian Space Agency.

    – In addition, we have a good dialogue with the German Space Agency, DLR, about this.

    Satellites in polar orbits converge naturally across the polar regions before spreading outward towards the equator. Therefore, a mapping station far north will be able to see more satellites at the same time than similar stations further south.

    The development process

    The first part of the project is to develop methods and software for automating observations, and this is a task that is on the table of Senior Engineer Thomas Jordbru.

    – When you delve into almost all types of tasks, you quickly discover that things are often more complicated than you first assume, says Jordbru.  – And that is also true when it comes this project. The team at the Norwegian Mapping Authority has taken care of the heaviest analysis part of the images, where the biggest challenge is to carry out the analysis in near real time.

    – Our first experience has been that images taken at low focal lengths increase analysis time and give us images with lower resolutions. We are now looking at a combination of high focal lengths (where you see a smaller part of the sky in each photo) and motorized cameras.

    – Our part of the work includes creating, in collaboration with the Norwegian Mapping Authority, software that stitches the whole concept together, combined with automated camera control, says Jordbru. – Then we will test and validate everything, and the goal is that in the long term this can be further developed into a larger system for SST.

    – Two observation sites lead to more accurate surveys. The completed system could, for example, be such that Ny-Ålesund takes a picture of a satellite and informs Andøya that in three minutes the same satellite will pass over Andøya. There will always be some uncertainty associated with the analyses, but by having repeated measurements/observations, this uncertainty will be significantly reduced, says Jordbru. – How this coordination will take place is also something we are looking at.

    – This project is a continuation of a previous project in 2021, where we were contacted by DLR. Now we see the first concrete results, concludes Martin Flügge. – Together with the Norwegian Mapping Authority, we want to become one of the leading initiatives in this area in the long term.

    More information

    For more information, contact Andøya Space Sub-Orbital

  • The Grand Challenge Initiative explained

    Between 2018 and 2021, 12 research rockets from three countries was launched from Andøya Space in a coordinated effort to study cusp region space physics. The effort was coordinated in the Grand Challenge project Cusp. Now, the Grand Challenge continues with new projects, but what is the Grand Challenge?

    ‒ The idea behind Grand Challenge was actually created by myself and professor Jøran Moen from the University of Oslo, says Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital at Andøya Space. ‒ And the basic notion was sharing. If one research mission creates n number of research data, then five research mission should give you 5*n data. It is simple math, really.

    ‒ Each participant in a Grand Challenge project pays for one mission, share their research data, and in return gets access to the research data from all the other participants. Of course, the data set needs to be relevant, which is why we create these Grand Challenge projects focusing on a particular subject. By taking these independently initiated missions and coordinating them we saw a tremendous increase in scientific return, says Blix.

    ‒ We did the first Grand Challenge project, called project Cusp, in 2018, together with scientists from Norway, Japan and USA, says Blix. ‒ Now, the second project, called M/LT, is underway. And we’re busy planning the third, which is named Solar Max.

    Project Cusp

    A project that was designed to advance the common understanding of cusp region space physics through coordinated experimental and theoretical research using ground based instruments, modeling, sounding rocket investigations, and satellite based instruments.

    The cusp is the part of the Earth’s magnetic field that funnels down into the polar regions. The ionosphere is the upper part of the atmosphere. Here particles from the solar wind, trapped in the cusp, cause the aurora borealis.

    NASA made a video about one of the missions within the Grand Challenge Project Cusp.

    Project M/LT

    Participants in the M/LT project studies the mesosphere and the lower thermosphere, which are layers in the middle atmosphere, using sounding rockets, balloons and groundbased remote sensing. They are especially looking at the potential impact small processes can have on a global scale.

    Project Solar Max

    With the next solar maximum imminent, project Solar Max aims to do a repeat of project Cusp, which was performed around solar minimum.

    Stronger together

    ‒ International cooperation is very important in the Grand Challenge, says Blix. ‒ Scientists from three countries participated in the first project, and then from nine countries in the second project. Grand Challenge really has been a win-win situation for all participants, not only for the sounding rocket community, but also for the balloon and remote sensing communities.

    ‒ Every research platform has its advantages, but there isn’t one single platform that can do everything. For example, satellites can’t easily do in-situ measurements in altitudes below 300 kilometers. It is only by combining data from satellites, research rockets, balloons, and ground based instruments that you can get a complete overview of a physical process in the atmosphere, says Blix. ‒ And that’s what we’re trying to do with the Grand Challenge Initiative.

    More information

    For more information, contact Andøya Space Sub-Orbital

  • Launch of SOAR

    A German research rocket was launched from Andøya Space November 13th, 2023, to test new technologies.

    SOAR is an abbreviation for “Single-stage Operational Assessment of Red Kite”, and is a project between the German space agency DLR and Bayern-Chemie GmbH which aims to develop a new solid fueled rocket motor called Red Kite.

    – Traditionally, research rockets have used older, surplus military rocket motors, says Kolbjørn Blix, Vice President Sub-Orbital at Andøya Space. – Red Kite is an exciting project which may enable us to supplement with modern rocket motors in the years to come.

    Red Kite use so-called solid-fuel, meaning that the fuel is not liquid, but in the form of a rubberlike compound installed inside the motor at the factory.

    – Solid fueled rocket motors are ideal for research rockets, says Blix. – They almost always work and you do not need complicated infrastructure at the launch pad to fuel the rocket. The disadvantage is that the motor is always filled with fuel, and therefore needs to be treated with care. But that is something Andøya Space have 61 years of experience with.

    – This launch was the first time Red Kite actually perfomed a mission. Up to now it had only performed static firings. The SOAR rocket was therefore filled to the brim with sensors in order to gain the most amount of data from the flight.

    The rocket also carried secondary experiments focusing on technologies for supersonic flight, which is speeds faster that the speed of sound.

    SOAR lifted-off from Andøya Space 12:30 UTC, November 13th, and reached an apogee of 72 kilometers.

    – Research rockets are made to lift scientific experiments and instruments up to a given altitude in the atmosphere and do not go into orbit around Earth, says Blix. – They are tailormade for every flight and can reach all altitudes. The standing record at Andøya Space is actually 1,600 kilometers, but the main focus of SOAR was not to climb as high as possible.

    – SOAR is an exciting German technology project, and Andøya Space Sub-Orbital have contributed with launch services, telemetry services and infrastructure.

    More information?

    Please contact Andøya Space Sub-Orbital.

  • Andøya Space develops new “brain” for sounding rockets

    To function during flight a sub-orbital rocket needs a service system in order to do science and send sensor data back to the ground. The engineering department at Andøya Space have developed a new service system that can transmit three times more data than the previous system.

    The new service system is composed of four circuit boards, stacked on top of each other and mounted in an aluminum casing.

    – A service system is essentially a support system for the rocket payload and the onboard instruments. It has several tasks, but it basically comes down to getting the instruments into the right position to do science and send sensor data back to the ground, says Aerospace Chief Engineer Geir Lindahl at Andøya Space. 

    He is one of the engineers who have worked closely with the development of the new system.

    The service system is composed of four circuit boards, stacked on top of each other and mounted in an aluminum casing of approximately ten cubic decimeters, which is approximate one liter. These circuit boards handle four sub-tasks: data-encoding, data acquisition, power management, and event-handling.

    Data encoding is the process of collecting data from several different sources, sorting it and translating it into a bit-stream of zeros and ones.

    More than just an encoder

    – This is often thought of as the main task of the service system, and therefore the system is often mistakenly said to be an encoder. It is an encoder, but it is so much more than that. The encoder is only one fourth of the system, says Lindahl.

    The power management system delivers power to all systems and controls the switching between battery and ground power. The event handler is detecting lift-off and arms the onboard pyrotechnics.

    During a flight the payload often separates from the motor, opens hatches, releases the nosecone and deploys a parachute. All these events are controlled by the event handler. The data acquisition system allows analog sensors to be interfaced directly to the service system.

    Thomas Jordbru, Senior Electronics Engineer at Andøya Space, is demonstrating how the service system works.

    Improved capabilities, three times more data

    The new service system will be transmitting three times more data compared to the previous system. The data acquisition has 16 times better resolution. This allows for higher resolution and more detailed analysis on a finer scale.

    – The system has also been extended to comply with more digital protocols making it easier for the customer to interface, says Lindahl.

    A sounding rocket can travel up to a couple of thousand meters per second. To do fine scale measurements at this speed, a high sampling rate and high data throughput is essential. 

    The first launch to use the new system will be the Norwegian sounding rocket Maxidusty 2, scheduled to be launched in the summer of 2024.

    A challenging project

    Andøya Space has been building payloads for over two decades, and all payloads require a service system. Earlier flights used the predecessor, STAPPE 1, which was developed by the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI).

    However, when FFI ended its sounding rocket research, the design wasn’t renewed. Components became obsolete and it became impossible to produce more units of the old system.

    – We didn’t have much experience with designing service systems to start with, so the learning curve was steep. Luckily, we had FFI to lead the design and help us, says Lindahl.

    In the middle of the project, Covid-19 happened. This had a large effect on the production of electronic components and caused a global component crisis still felt today.

    – Some components were almost impossible to get hold of with lead times of up to several years. As a result, we had to redesign and change part of the original design, which increased both development time and the cost , Lindahl says.

    Ready for launch

    – The service system has gone through all bench tests with flying colors and is now ready to be tested and used together with the scientific instruments before launch to see how well our system performs together with other systems, says Lindahl.

    He is very pleased that the new service system is now completed and ready to be used for launches at Andøya.

    – It feels great that this long project is finally finished. It has been a good learning experience and we have gained a lot from FFI’s extensive knowledge. I feel like the torch has been passed to us in a good way. We own the design and have the knowledge to develop the system further ourselves. We are very happy to present the new system to our customers, Lindahl concludes.

    More information

    Please send us an email if you are interested in more information about our developments.

  • Scientific cooperation across borders

    What is the EASP agreement, and what can it do for your science?

    – The Esrange and Andøya Special Project (EASP) agreement is an international agreement for launching sounding rockets and balloons from the Andøya and Esrange launch sites, along with related scientific projects, explains Kolbjørn Blix, Vice President, Andøya Space Sub-Orbital. He is the manager for the EASP agreement at Andøya Space.

    Five member states of the European Space Agency (ESA) are a part of the agreement. These are France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Norway joined in the early 1990s.

    The EASP agreement is directed by ESA from their headquarters in Paris, yet it is not an ESA agreement.

    – The agreement has two main parts, one describing the objectives, organization and its undertakings covered by Norway and Sweden, such as infrastructure facilities, sounding rocket and stratospheric balloon activities, annual contributions to basic maintenance costs, operational fees and cost reimbursement, the programme advisory committee, the role of ESA and so on, says Blix.

    The second part, or annexes, covers the support provided for the scientific projects that are included in the agreement. For example telemetry, radars, complementary instruments, assembly halls, services, accommodation, dining, and recreational facilities.

    One or two EASP launches per year at Andøya

    The EASP agreement includes potential launches with sounding rockets, telemetry and tracking of the rocket if needed, full crew for performing the launch itself, and use of equipment and assembly halls on site necessary to prepare the payload and sounding rocket for launch.

    The German sounding rocket “STORT” was lanched from Andøya in 2022.

    – We usually have one or two EASP launches every year, occasionally with two sounding rockets going up in the same rocket campaign, says Blix.

    These can be sounding rockets for scientific research, such as for investigating noctilucent clouds high up in the atmosphere, or they may be technology tests or demonstrations of for example new rocket motors.

    This year’s EASP launch at Andøya Space will be a technology demonstration of a new type of rocket motor developed by a German company. This test is conducted through the German space agency DLR. The demonstration is named SOAR, and will be launched in November 2023.

    Sounding rockets, balloons, and related ground-based research

    The EASP agreement covers launches with sounding rockets as well as with scientific balloons.

    – This means that the EASP agreement also is open for scientists who wish to use stratospheric balloons for their experiments, as well as related research on the ground, says Blix. – But most of the launches from Andøya are sounding rockets. 

    Contributes actively with projects to the agreement

    The EASP agreement is automatically renewed every five years, and the next time will be in 2025.

    – We do not only participate in the agreement, we also contribute actively with scientific projects for it, says Blix.

    He manages, along with scientists from Norway and USA, a large international collaboration of research of the middle and upper atmosphere called The Grand Challenge Initiative Mesosphere / Lower Thermosphere (GCI M/LT).

    This collaboration allows scientists from countries outside of the EASP agreement to be a part of the ground-based or sounding rocket research covered by the agreement.

    – At the Grand Challenge Initiative website, interested parties can also find a white paper describing the collaboration, with information that can be used for applications for joining the cooperation, Blix says.

    Grand Challenge Initiative mission patch
  • Andøya Space is strengthening the capacity with new launcher

    Andøya Space is strengthening the launch capacity with a new launcher in Oksebåsen, Andøya. The new launcher will be ready for launches by the end of autumn 2024.

    Illustration of the new Andøya Space launcher.

    Andøya Space has been launching sounding rockets for 61 years, and is now strengthening the launching capacity by building a new launcher in Oksebåsen at Andøya. With the new launcher Andøya Space will be able to launch multiple sounding rockets during a campaign.

    – The sounding rockets have gotten bigger and bigger the last couple of years, and we therefore saw the need to upgrade with one more launcher to strengthen our ability to handle multiple rockets during one campaign, says Hans Arne Eilertsen, project manager for the new launcher build-up at Andøya Space.

    The launcher is built as a universal launcher that can be used for all kinds of sounding rockets. It can also operate at low elevation, which makes the launches more flexible.

    Ready for launches autumn 2024

    Karstein Kristiansen Entreprenør is the contractor for the shelter and the launcher is delivered by Oil-Tech. Both companies were chosen after an invitation to tender.

    The building phase starts in August this year, and the launcher is scheduled to be ready for launches by the end of autumn 2024.

    More information

    Please send us an email if you want more information about the new launcher.

  • Lift-off for NASA VortEx

    Two sounding rockets in the NASA VortEx project was launched from Andøya Space on March 23rd, 2023.

    The VortEx project aims to understand how winds and energy from the lower atmosphere affect the upper atmosphere. In the atmosphere, energy from the lower atmosphere travels up as much as 100 kilometers. These waves of energy create turbulence, vortices and instability in the upper atmosphere, and may affect the space weather around the Earth. Knowledge of these processes is important to protect satellites and other infrastructure in orbit.

    Of the four sounding rockets prepared for VortEx, the first of them was launched from Andøya on March 23rd, 2023, at 21:00:00 UTC, followed by the second rocket two minutes later.

    The first sounding rocket reached an apogee of 149 kilometers, and the second reached 363 kilometers while releasing tracers to visualize turbulence and vortices in the atmosphere – creating cloud formations visible from the ground.

    Image of a high altitude cloud against a dark, starry sky.
    The tracers dispersing in the atmosphere, visualizing the turbulence and vortices.

    The two sounding rockets that didn’t launch will be transferred into storage awaiting future use.

  • Reaching for the clouds

    Can clouds help us improve weather forecasts and climate models? That’s what researchers from the MC2 project are trying to find out. The past month they have been conducting reasearch on mixed-phase clouds from Andøya, trying to solve one important piece of the puzzle of the role clouds play in the Earth’s climate.

    Clouds are key components in the Earth’s weather and climate system, and about 60 percent of the Earth is covered by clouds. They transport heat and moisture from the warm tropical regions into the cold polar regions, and where warm air from the tropics meets cold air from the poles, you can both observe and feel the impact of clouds.

    Despite this, the processes that lead to the formation of clouds are not yet fully understood. By doing more research and understanding more about clouds, we can get even more accurate weather and climate forecasts.

    Mixed-phase clouds

    – Clouds are one of the largest sources of uncertainty in current climate models. We are therefore trying to better understand the development of mixed-phase clouds, how they evolve, and how that affects the weather and climate, says Tim Carlsen, researcher at the Department of Geosciences at the University of Oslo.

    He and his colleagues have conducted the Mixed-phase Clouds and Climate (MC2) campaign at Andøya Space, a five-week-long scientific measurement campaign that combined measurements from a research aircraft with ground-based observations.

    The focus of the MC2 campaign are mixed-phase clouds, which consist of both liquid water and ice, and their role for the Earth’s climate. Their importance is undisputed, but their exact properties are still very uncertain.

    – We are looking into how much of the mixed-phase clouds are water droplets and how much are ice crystals. This is important for how the clouds develop and evolve, and other factors, such as how much sunlight they reflect, says Robert Oscar David, another of the researchers from the University of Oslo in the MC2 campaign.

    The MC2 project team at Andøya

    Andøya – a natural laboratory for climate science

    During the research flights, the researchers investigated the distribution of liquid water and ice crystals in low- to mid-level clouds. These types of clouds are common in the Arctic.

    – Andøya is a really unique location because it’s at a crossroads where air from the Arctic meets air from farther south, says Carlsen.

    – The type of clouds we are investigating are frequently found here at this time of year. That makes Andøya a natural laboratory for us, adds David.

    Andøya Space has a long history of offering research infrastructure to universities and research institutions from all over the world.

    – Our main task is to provide the infrastructure and services that makes such campaigns possible, says Laura Scholtz, project manager for the MC2 campaign at Andøya Space. – This includes facilities for performing ground-based measurements and delivering data from our own instruments at the Alomar Observatory.

    Some of the flight crew for the MC2 campaign from INCAS and University of Oslo

    MC2 – an international collaboration

    This is the third year the researchers in the MC2 project are at Andøya.

    – This time we utilize a research aircraft from the National Institute for Aerospace Research “Elie Carafoli” (INCAS) in Romania. It is a key component in the campaign that we haven’t had earlier, says Carlsen.

    The aircraft will help to put the ground-based observations into a larger perspective. It carries instruments that measure the number and size of ice crystals and liquid droplets in the clouds. The pilots and operators from INCAS are part of the campaign team at Andøya, planning and coordinating the flights with the scientists.

    – Two of them operate the instruments during the flight. The plane also has room for one mission scientist, says Laura-Kristin Scholtz.

    – To have a mission scientist onboard is a great advantage because it allows us to record exactly what kind of clouds we’re flying through and enables us to make in-flight decisions to easier find what we are after, says David.

    A piece of the climate puzzle

    In addition to INCAS in Romania, researchers from the Universities of Bergen, Gothenburg and Leipzig are part of the MC2 campaign. The team from the University of Oslo is led by Professor Trude Storelvmo.

    – We also have two postdoctoral researchers, three PhD students and three master’s students who are actively involved in the measurements. They are critical for the project, and will use the data in their own research, says David.

    – With MC2 we hope to solve one important piece of the puzzle of the role clouds play in the Earth’s climate, says Carlsen.

  • VortEx klar til oppskytning fra Andøya Space

    Hvordan påvirker vind og energi fra den lavere atmosfære den øvre atmosfære og romvær? For å beskytte satellitter og annen infrastruktur i bane mot forstyrrelser eller ødeleggelse, er det viktig å forstå og kunne forutsi romvær.

    I atmosfæren kan energi fra den lavere atmosfæren stige så mye som 100 kilometer. Disse energibølgene skaper turbulens, virvler og ustabilitet i den øvre atmosfæren, noe som kan påvirke romværet rundt jorden.

    Radar, vitenskapelige raketter og optiske instrumenter

    The Vorticity Experiment (VortEx) skal bruke radar, vitenskapelige raketter og optiske instrumenter for å merke et område i mesosfæren på rundt 100 til 200 kilometer i størrelse og 80 til 140 kilometer i høyde over havet, sier Ida-Elise Øverås, Director Sounding Rockets & Engineering Services i Andøya Space.

    Ved å ta prøver av og analysere dette området, prøver forskerne å forstå hvordan denne regionen i mesosfæren påvirker den øvre atmosfæren gjennom å blande prosessene som forekommer med den lavere atmosfære.

    Fire vitenskapelige raketter

    – Det vil bli oppskytning av fire vitenskapelige raketter fra Andøya Space for VortEx. Disse fire vitenskapelige rakettene vil fly parvis, sier Øverås.

    I hvert par vil en av rakettene inneholde 16 individuelle målinger for vind, mens den andre vil utføre en kontinuerlig måling av vind og temperatur.

    – En av de vitenskapelige rakettene vil også slippe ut trimetylaluminum for å visualisere turbulens og virvler i luften. Dette vil filmes fra tre ulike steder, her på Andøya, i Alta og i nærheten av Bodø. I tillegg vil det filmes av vårt forskningsfly, sier Øverås.

    De vitenskapelige rakettene har planlagt oppskytning mellom 17. og 26. mars.

    Principal Investigator for VortEx er Dr. Gerald Lehmacher fra Clemson University i Sør-Carolina, USA. VortEx er en del av Grand Challenge Initiative Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere.

  • VortEx ready to launch from Andøya

    How do winds and energy from the lower atmosphere affect the upper atmosphere and space weather? Understanding and forecasting space weather is important to protect satellites and other infrastructure in orbit, whose functions may be disturbed or disrupted by space weather.

    In the atmosphere, energy from the lower atmosphere travels up as much as 100 kilometers. These waves of energy create turbulence, vortices and instability in the upper atmosphere, and may affect the space weather around the Earth.

    Radar, sounding rockets and optical instruments

    – The Vorticity Experiment (VortEx) will use radar, sounding rockets and optical instruments to map an area in the mesosphere of about 100 by 200 kilometers in size, from 80 to 140 kilometers altitude, says Ida-Elise Øverås, Director Sounding Rockets & Engineering Services at Andøya Space.

    By sampling and analyzing this area, the researchers seeks to understand how this region in the mesosphere affects the upper atmosphere through mixing processes with the lower atmosphere.

    Four sounding rockets

    – Four sounding rockets will be launched from Andøya Space for VortEx. These four sounding rockets will take off in pairs, says Øverås.

    In each pair, one rocket will contain 16 individual measurements of wind, while the other will perform a continuous measurement of wind and temperature.

    – One of the sounding rockets in each pair will also release trimethylaluminum to visualize turbulence and vortices in the air. This will be filmed from three different sites, here at Andøya, in Alta and near Bodø, and by our research plane, says Øverås.

    The sounding rockets in VortEx have a launch window from the 17th of March to the 26th of March 2023.

    Principal Investigator for VortEx is Dr. Gerald Lehmacher at Clemson University in South Carolina in the US. VortEx is part of the Grand Challenge Initiative Mesosphere and Lower Thermosphere.

  • Framsat-1 shake test


    Before a satellite is ready for launch it is thoroughly tested to make sure it can withstand both the rocket’s intense shaking and vibrations during launch, as well as the harsh environment of space.

    The first satellites to be launched from Andøya Spaceport will be several CubeSats from five institutions in Germany, Slovenia and Norway. These nanosatellites, measuring only 10 x 10 x 10 centimeters and weighing less than two kilos each, will be launched from Andøya Spaceport by Isar Aerospace’s rocket “Spectrum”.

    One of these CubeSats is FramSat-1, built by members of the student organization Orbit NTNU at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

    FramSat-1 will test an experimental sun sensor developed for satellites and sounding rockets. Such sensors measure the sun’s position relative to the satellite, to determine the satellite’s attitude in space

    The sun sensor on FramSat-1 has been delivered by the Norwegian space company Eidsvoll Electronics (EIDEL). Other organizations which contribute to the FramSat-1 mission are Andøya Space Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space Education, Institute for electronic systems at NTNU, the Norwegian Space Agency, Kongsberg Group and Inission.

    An important milestone

    Like all satellites and spacecraft, the student CubeSats must pass several tests demonstrating that they can withstand the intense shaking and vibrations during launch as well as the harsh environment of space.

    Andøya Space is the facility for FramSat-1’s shake test.

    – This is an important milestone in the development of all satellites, says Mathias Askeland, project manager for FramSat in Orbit NTNU.

    FramSat-1 was taken through vibration tests at several different frequencies to check that the results are within the specifications from Isar Aerospace. The resonance frequency of the satellite will also be detected.

    – In addition, we will test functionality at every axis to ensure that all subsystems onboard still work as intended, says Askeland.

    Making connections with the space industry

    – Everyone working on FramSat-1 have made a maximum effort these last months. We are very relieved that the satellite is ready and that we have solved all the challenges which arose during development, Askeland says.

    After the shake test at Andøya, the three students participating in the test will bring FramSat-1 with them back to Trondheim.

    The students at Orbit NTNU are developing another satellite identical to FramSat-1, to be launched later.

    – It’s been a pleasure to work with our FramSat-1 partners and develop strong connections with the Norwegian and international space industry, Askeland says.

    Environmental testing at Andøya Space

    Andøya Space has developed an environmental testing facility for qualifying sounding rocket payloads.

    – Here we have equipment for performing spin-balancing, spin-deploy, bend-down and vacuum testing, in addition to the vibration table used for testing Framsat-1, says Geir Lindahl, Chief Engineer at Andøya Space Sub-Orbital.

    – With the rapid growth of the satellite market and the construction of our new launch base, we also intend to adapt our test facilities to be able to support more satellite customers, says Lindahl.

    Space Education 2.0

    Framsat-1 is a pilot project in Space Education 2.0, an initiative which aims to use the new educational possibilities which have opened due to the creation of Andøya Spaceport.

    – We aim to increase the utilization of the infrastructure here at Andøya Space for both Norwegian and international universities, says Jøran Grande, project manager at Andøya Space Education.

    This infrastructure includes the new launch facilities for small satellites, as well as the launch base for sounding rockets, Alomar – a laboratory for atmospheric science at Andøya Space.

    More information

  • NASA ACES II launched from Andøya Space


    Two American research rockets from NASA were launched from Andøya Space on November 20th, 2022.

    Lift-off from Oksebåsen, November 20th. Photo: Andøya Space.

    The ACES II mission was the first “NASA ship-and-shoot mission” from Andøya, where the payloads and ground support equipment were shipped via aircraft to Andøya Airport.

    ACES II was a follow-up mission from ACES, which launched from a site in Alaska in 2009. ACES is an abbreviation for Aurora Current and Electrodynamics Structures.

    The mission consisted of a total of two sounding rocket flights (36.359 and 36.364) launched from Andøya Space November 20th 2022 at 18:20 and 18:21.

    This experiment was launched on two Black Brant IX launch vehicles. The payloads utilized a suite of in-flight instruments to take in-situ measurements of a stable auroral arc.

    The payloads were launched with 120 seconds between the two launches, to achieve magnetic conjunction. The experiment required an Attitude Control System (ACS) on each payload.

    Mission information

    Project Manager: Daniel Bowden, NASA/Wallops

    Principal Investgator: Dr. Scott Bounds, University of Iowa

    Vehicles: 36.359 (Bounds High Flyer) and 36.364 (Bounds Low Flyer)

  • NASA ACES II klar til oppskytning fra Andøya Space

    To amerikanske forskningsraketter i prosjektet ACES II er nå klar til oppskytning fra Andøya. Med to minutters mellomrom.

    ACES II er en oppfølger fra ACES som ble skutt opp fra en oppskytningsbase i Alaska i 2009. ACES er en forkortelse for Aurora Current and Electrodynamics Structures

    Skal forske på nordlys 

    De to forskningsrakettene skal utføre målinger samtidig inne i et nordlysutbrudd, men i forskjellige høydeområder.  

    – Den ene forskningsraketten skal opp til 410 kilometers høyde, sier Kolbjørn Blix, sjef for forskningsrakettvirksomheten ved Andøya Space. – Og den andre får en topphøyde på vel 160 kilometer. 

    – Begge rakettene er totrinnsraketter, det vil si at de har to rakettmotorer hver, sier Kolbjørn. – Oppskytningene er planlagt slik at begge rakettene når hver sin makshøyde samtidig, selv om den ene starter to minutter før den andre. Dette gjøres for å kunne se hvordan elektriske strukturer og strømninger inne i nordlyset utvikler seg i forskjellige høyder. 


    – Helt siden den norske forskeren Kristian Birkeland på slutten av 1800-tallet oppdaget at nordlyset er forbundet med sola har man skjønt at nordlysforskning egentlig er en forskning som sier noe om hvordan sola påvirker jorda, sier Kolbjørn. – Solens påvirkning på jorden kalles ofte for romvær, og det å kunne forutsi romværet er veldig viktig for det moderne samfunnet vi lever i nå. 

    – Skikkelig kraftig romvær påvirker ikke bare satellitter i bane, men også GPS, kommunikasjonssignaler, strømnett og kompass, sier Kolbjørn. – ACES II bidrar til grunnforskning som også kan hjelpe oss med å forstå jordens atmosfære. 

    – Forskeren bak ACES II er Dr. Bounds fra University of Iowa, sier Kolbjørn. – Oppskytningene vil skje en gang fra og med 16. til 30. november mellom klokken 18 og 22, når forskerteamet har lokalisert optimale forhold for forskningsrakettene. 

    Mer informasjon

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • NASA ACES II ready for launch from Andøya Space


    Two American research rockets are now ready for launch from Andøya. The sub-orbital rockets will launch within two minutes of each other.

    ACES II is a follow-up mission from ACES, which launched from a site in Alaska in 2009. ACES is an abbreviation of Aurora Current and Electrodynamics Structures.

    Northern lights research

    The two rockets will perform simultaneous measurements inside a northern lights arc, but at different altitudes.

    – One rocket will travel up to 410 kilometers altitude, says Kolbjørn Blix, VP Science & Technology at Andøya Space. – And the other will reach an altitude of 160 kilometers.

    – Both vehicles are two-stage vehicles, meaning they carry two rocket motors each, says Kolbjørn. – The launches are planned so that both vehicles will reach apogee at the same time, even if one of them starts two minutes before the other. This is done to be able to observe how electrical currents and structures inside the aurora behave in different heights.

    Space weather

    – Northern lights research really is research into how the sun affects the Earth, which has been known since late 1800s when the Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland connected the dots, says Kolbjørn. – This solar influence on Earth is referred to as space weather, and being able to predict space weather is very important for the modern society we all live in.

    – Powerful space weather affect not just satellites in orbit, but also GPS, communications, power grids and compasses, says Kolbjørn. – ACES II will contribute to basic research which will also help us understand Earth’s atmosphere better.

    – The principal investigator behind ACES II is Dr. Bounds from the University of Iowa, says Kolbjørn. – The launches will take place some time from the 16th to the 30th of November, 1800-2200 local time, when the science team have identified the optimal science conditions the rockets need.

    More information

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • STORT successfully launched

    At June 26th, 04:19 local time, the German sounding rocket “STORT” successfully soared into the sunny summer night above Andenes.

    The acronym STORT stands for “Schlüsseltechnologien für hochenergetische Rückkehrflüge der Trägerstufen”, which translates to “Key technologies for high-energetic return flights of reusable launcher stages”.

    For the design and certification of spacecraft components, numerical and experimental methods for multidisciplinary applications must be developed and validated. Therefore, the comparison of numerical and experimental data with flight data is indispensable. In the STORT project, all three tools mentioned are used for the development and qualification of key technologies for high-energy return flights of reusable launcher stages.

    Photo of STORT lift-off from Oksebåsen
    LIft-off from Oksebåsen, June 26th, 04:19. Photo: Andøya Space

    Numerical, experimental and flight data

    Numerical design methods still have great shortcomings in estimating the integral heat loads and  temperature spikes on key components of a spacecraft. Ground-based experiments can only simulate flight segments with partially inaccurate flight conditions.

    In the high-speed flight sector, aero-thermodynamic processes, such as thermal and chemical interactions between the vehicle surface and high enthalpy flow play an important role in spacecraft design. Since previous flight experiments did not allow such conditions, a flight experiment for a velocity of Mach 8 is performed on a suppressed trajectory.

    The preparation of the flight experiment will be accompanied by dedicated ground-based experiments with modern diagnostics. The experimental data are analyzed with advanced and efficient evaluation algorithms. Both the flight data and the ground experiments are used to improve the numerical methods.

    The main goals of the project

    • System analysis of high-energy flights of reusable stages of launchers
    • Aerothermal and mechanical prediction of highly loaded structures with existing tools
    • Development of reusable structures with high reliability
    • Use of modern diagnostics to characterize the test objects and test environments
    • Qualification tests in ground-based facilities on high-temperature structures and materials
    • Development and testing of ground demonstrators
    • Execution of a flight experiment for flight testing of high-temperature components
    • Development of a three-stage launch vehicle delivering Mach 8 at 50 km max altitude
    • Multidisciplinary post-flight analysis

    Within the scope of STORT, a project within the German Aerospace Center (DLR), several technology and hardware developments culminated in this flight experiment using a newly developed three-stage sounding rocket motor. The vehicle flew on a suppressed trajectory with an apogee of 38 km and velocities exceeding Mach 8 to provide high-enthalpy experimental conditions for hypersonic aero-thermal research.

    The initial data analysis by DLR confirms a successful flight; the detailed analysis of scientific data is already underway. DLR also expresses their gratitude to Andøya Space for the support during the STORT campaign.

    STORT mission patch

    More information

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • Lift-off for Endurance

    The NASA suborbital research rocket Endurance lifted off from the Andøya Space launch site at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, on Wednesday May 11th, 2022.

    Photo of lift-off for Endurance from Ny-Ålesund
    Photo: Brian Bonsteel, NASA

    The primary mission for Endurance was to investigate and measure Earth’s electrical field in order to establish to what extent the ionosphere leaks water into space. It is already known by the science community that the ionospheres on Mars and Venus do this as well.

    Lift-off occurred at 03:31, local time. The principal investigator on Endurance, Glyn Collinson at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Catholic University of America, was very pleased with the initial results. The data returned from the mission will be analyzed further in months and years ahead.

    During its flight the Endurance reached an apogee of 767 kilometers altitude.

    More information

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • The GHOST mission

    A suborbital scientific research rocket named GHOST will carry student experiments from nine countries and is set to launch from Andøya Space no earlier than 2024.

    University and college students in Norway, Canada, France, Japan, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, or USA are invited to join the GHOST rocket project with their experiments.

    GHOST is short for Grand Challenge Mesosphere Student Rocket and is a large research rocket for students to be launched from Andøya Space no earlier than 2024. The rocket is a part of the international project Grand Challenge Initiative Project Mesosphere / Lower Thermosphere (GCI M/LT) which studies the mesosphere (95 – 120 kilometers from the ground) and the lower part of the thermosphere (about 120 kilometers from the ground).

    – This project will use experiments lifted onboard several sounding rockets, balloons, and aircraft at the same time all over the globe because this way we get more data from the experiments than if they were to be conducted in isolation, says Kolbjørn Blix, Director of sounding rockets and Andøya Space. He’s leading the project together with scientists such as Douglas Rowland at NASA.

    Hands-on experience and useful contacts

    Scientists from NASA, the European space agency ESA, the Japanese space agency JAXA as well as Canada, Poland and UK are participating in GCI M/LT.

    – Our wish is that students from all those countries, including Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, France, and Germany participates on the GHOST mission, says Kolbjørn.

    GHOST will be built in USA by NASA and is scheduled to be launched from Andøya Space during the same launch campaign as another NASA research rocket.

    – This way the students will experience a professional launch campaign close-up. But first they need to design and build the experiments the GHOST rocket will carry, document them, test them, integrate them, and comply with all the deadlines and requirements that are common in a rocket project, says Kolbjørn.

    – The students will connect with each other and the scientists, which will give them not only a useful experience, but also a network they can use to advance their careers in the space business, say Kolbjørn.

    Photo of G-CHASER lift-off from Andøya.
    G-CHASER lifts-off from Andøya.

    Experience from an earlier student rocket

    GHOST is built on the concept of an earlier student rocket named G-CHASER, which carried with it experiments built by a hundred students from Norway, Japan, and USA.

    – G-CHASER was a large two-stage research rocket built by NASA as a part of the Grand Challenge Initiative Project Cusp, says Kolbjørn.

    The students built and tested their instruments at home, and about half of them joined the final integration and testing at NASA in 2018, and then during the launch campaign at Andøya Space in 2019.

    Logo and song

    The success of G-CHASER and the Grand Challenge Initiative Project Cusp demonstrated for all that a large student rocket and a large research project was possible and even produced good results.

    – We found the perfect logo for the GHOST mission, says Kolbjørn. – A logo with a rocket resembling a ghost, and the owner, Ghost Rocket Music in USA, have given us their permission to use it. They will even try to create a song to promote the project.

    Grand Challenge

    More information about Grand Challenge can be found on the website

    Want to join?

    Information about how to join the GHOST mission will be made public later this year.

    GHOST mission patch
    The GHOST mission patch

    More information

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • Why is there life on Earth but not on Mars?

    Earth’s electrical field is to be measured for the first time. It will be done with a NASA research rocket launched from Andøya Space’s launch site on Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard.

    Why is there life on Earth but not on Mars or Venus? Our neighbors have a lot in common with Earth. Once they looked even more similar than what they do today, and had liquid water on their surfaces and in their atmospheres. So why today is Earth the only one with life?

    One of the culprits may be the electrically charged field in the atmosphere known as the ionosphere. Here, the intense light from the sun converts water in the atmosphere to oxygen and hydrogen, which then dissapears into space. Over time this process removes water from Mars and Venus.

    But Earth also have an ionosphere. This is where the northern lights are created when electrically charged particles from the sun collides with Earths magnetic field and is drawn towards the polar regions.  Why haven’t Earth’s atmosphere made Earth’s water leak into space?

    Photo of work with scientific rocket
    Photo: Nasa

    Is Earth’s water disappearing through the ionosphere?

    This is the main focus for the research rocket Endurance. It will measure the electrical field in the ionosphere, the strength, size and to what extent it converts water and leaks the remains out to space. It is the first time this experiment have been conducted.

    Endurance will launch from Ny-Ålesund on Svalbard sometime between May 9th and May 26th. The launch window goes from 03:00 to 07:00. From Ny-Ålesund the rockets trajectory will be in a southwestern direction, with an expected apogee of about 800 kilometers.

    Photo of work with scientific rocket
    Photo: Nasa

    Weaker than a wristwatch battery

    – One of the reasons Earth have life is probably due to our electrically weak ionosphere, which is only about 0.3 volt and thus weaker than the battery of a typical wristwatch, and 25 times weaker than the ionosphere of Venus, says Glyn Collinson at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Catholic University of America.

    He is in charge of the scientific scope of Endurance in collaboration with NASA, and conducts research on the the electrical fields of Earth, Venus, Mars and other celestial bodies in the solar system.

    – With Endurance we will measure one of the basic properties of Earth, directly connected to why there is life and humans here. The scientific reward of this work can therefore be great, says Collinson.

    Photo of work with payload on scientific rocket
    Photo: Nasa

    Can only be done from Andøya and Svalbard

    – Our launch sites at Andøya and Ny-Ålesund are some of the very few places in the world where it is possible to investigate the ionosphere and its electrical field using research rockets, says Kolbjørn Blix, director of sounding rockets and Andøya Space. – In addition to the launch sites, scientists have access to a well developed science intrastructure and several groundbased instrument sites, in order to monitor the parameters needed to decide when the research rockets should launch.

    More information

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • Hvorfor finnes det liv på jorda, men ikke på Mars?

    For aller første gang skal jordas elektriske felt måles. Det gjøres med en forskningsrakett fra Andøya Space som skal skytes opp fra Ny-Ålesund på Svalbard.

    Hvorfor finnes det liv på jorda men ikke på Mars og Venus? Naboplanetene våre har mye til felles med jorda. En gang liknet de enda mer enn de gjør i dag, og hadde store mengder flytende vann på overflaten og i atmosfæren. Så hvorfor er det bare på på den blå planeten det er liv?

    En av årsakene kan være det elektrisk ladde feltet, ionosfæren, som både Venus og Mars har. Det intense sollyset spalter her vannet i atmosfæren til oksygen og hydrogen, som så forsvinner ut i rommet. Slik lekker ionosfæren vannet fra atmosfæren og hele planeten over tid.

    Men jorda har også en ionosfære. Det er her nordlyset oppstår når elektrisk ladde partikler fra sola treffer jordas magnetfelt og blir dratt ned mot polene. Ionosfæren er også grunnen til at vi kan sende radiosignaler over horisonten, fordi de blir reflektert av dette laget i atmosfæren. Så hvorfor har ikke jordas atmosfære lekket bort alt vannet vårt?

    Photo: Nasa

    Forsvinner jordas vann fra ionosfæren?

    Dette skal forskningsraketten Endurance undersøke ved å måle det elektriske feltet i ionosfæren, dets styrke, størrelse, og i hvilken grad det spalter vann og lekker restene ut i rommet. Det er første gang i historien at dette gjøres.

    Endurance skytes opp fra Ny-Ålesund på Svalbard mellom 9. og 26. mai 2022, en gang mellom klokken 03 og 07 på morgenen. Herfra vil raketten fly i sørvestlig retning, utføre målingene sine 800 kilometer over bakken, og lande i Norskehavet mellom Grønland og Svalbard etter cirka 18 minutter.

    Les mer om selve oppskytingen her.

    Photo: Nasa

    Svakere enn batteriet til en klokke

    – En av grunnene til jorda har liv er antakelig fordi ionosfæren vår er elektrisk svak, på bare cirka 0,3 volt. Det er svakere enn batteriet til en klokke, og 25 ganger svakere enn ionosfæren til Venus, sier Glyn Collinson ved NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center og Catholic University of America.

    Han leder det vitenskapelige arbeidet med Endurance i samarbeid med NASA, og forsker på det elektriske feltet til jorda, Venus, Mars og andre himmellegemer i solsystemet.

    – Med Endurance skal vi måle en av de grunnleggende egenskapene til jorda, som er direkte forbundet med hvorfor det i det hele tatt finnes liv og mennesker her. Den vitenskapelige belønningen av dette arbeidet kan derfor bli stor, sier Collinson.

    Endurance kan hjelpe oss med å forstå hvorfor det i det hele tatt finnes liv på jorda. Foto: Nasa

    Kan bare gjøres fra Andøya og Svalbard

    – Oppskytingsbasene på Andøya og Ny-Ålesund er noen av de få stedene i verden hvor det er mulig å forske på ionosfæren og dens elektriske felt med raketter, fordi her er det både tilgang på oppskytingsramper, samt en godt utviklet infrastruktur for forskning og flere bakkebaserte instrumenter til å overvåke noen av de parameterne som forskerne bruker til å avgjøre når det perfekte oppskytningstidspunktet er inne, sier Kolbjørn Blix, leder for rakettaktiviteten ved Andøya Space.

    Alle foto: NASA

    Mer informasjon

    Ta kontakt med Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • Forskningsrakett fra Ny-Ålesund

    I mai planlegger Andøya Space og NASA å gjennomføre et forskningsoppdrag i den arktiske atmosfæren sørvest for Svalbard. 

    Unngår nordlyset 

    – I de siste årene har vi hatt mye fokus på nordlysforskning, sier Kolbjørn Blix, sjef for forskningsrakettavdelingen ved Andøya Space. – Men denne gangen ønsker forskerne faktisk å unngå nordlyset. 

    Som en del av det internasjonale forskningsprosjektet Grand Challenge Initiative, ble det fra 2018 til 2021 sendt mange forskningsraketter opp fra Andøya og Svalbard for å fly igjennom nordlyset. 

    – Det viser seg at det er mye rundt atmosfæren og jordens magnetfelt som vi enda ikke helt forstår. Og nettopp våre oppskytningsbaser på Andenes og Ny-Ålesund er to av få steder i verden det er mulig å gjennomføre mye av denne forskningen fra, sier Kolbjørn. – Det handler ikke bare om tilgangen på oppskytningsramper, men også om den velutviklede forskningsinfrastrukturen i nordområdene med mange bakkebaserte forskningsinstrumenter.

    Oppskytning av en Grand Challenge-forskningsrakett fra Svalbard i november 2021.


    – I mai planlegger vi å sende en forskningsrakett opp i atmosfæren over Svalbard sammen med NASA, sier Kolbjørn. – Den vil fly i sørvestlig retning ut fra oppskytningsbasen vår på Ny-Ålesund. Raketten vil utføre målingene sine 800 kilometer over bakken for så å lande nordvest i Norskehavet, mellom Grønland og Svalbard, etter knappe 18 minutter. 

    – Den seksten meter lange raketten skal forske på det elektriske feltet som oppstår i ionosfæren, men da i områder hvor det ikke er nordlys, sier Kolbjørn. 

    Sjefsforskeren for prosjektet er Dr. Glyn Collinson fra The Catholic University of America, og forskningen skjer sammen med NASA som også har bygget forskningsraketten.

    Forskningsraketten vil ende sin ferd nordvest i Norskehavet, mellom Grønland og Svalbard, etter knappe 18 minutter.

    Gode varslingsrutiner 

    – Vi har en lang og stolt fartstid når det gjelder sivile forskningsraketter, sier Ketil Olsen, administrerende direktør ved Andøya Space. – Og NASA er en av våre fremste samarbeidspartnere. Både vi og NASA har sikkerheten i høysetet, og vi følger strenge varslingsrutiner for å unngå mulige misforståelser og overraskelser i forbindelse med oppskytninger. 

    – «Endurance» har vært planlagt i flere år, og vil bli varslet både nasjonalt og internasjonalt, sier Ketil. – Før vi sender opp en forskningsrakett, informerer vi alltid Utenriksdepartementet, som så varsler internasjonalt via diplomatiske kanaler. De varsler også Russland direkte med en såkalt bilateral varsling, hvor vi får en skriftlig bekreftelse tilbake fra den russiske ambassaden om at de har blitt informert. I tillegg har både Avinor og Forsvarets operative hovedkvarter (FOH) direktelinje til Murmansk, så informasjonsflyten er god, og sannsynligheten for misforståelser minimal.  

    – Denne forskningsraketten er planlagt å fly i sørvestlig retning ut fra Ny-Ålesund, noe som er helt vanlig når vi skyter opp fra Svalbard, sier Ketil. – God dialog i kombinasjon med det faktum at raketten flyr vekk fra Russland vil gjøre det tydelig at dette kun handler om fredelig utforskning av atmosfæren.

    Konsernsjef for Andøya Space, Ketil Olsen.
    – Vi har en lang og stolt fartstid når det gjelder sivile forskningsraketter, sier Ketil Olsen, administrerende direktør ved Andøya Space.

    Oppskytning i mai 

    – Raketten vil bli skutt opp i morgentimene mellom klokken 03 og 07 en gang mellom 9. og 26. mai, forklarer Kolbjørn Blix.  

    – De forskjellige teamene er allerede i gang med forberedelsene, selv om personellet ikke reiser opp til Svalbard på enda en stund. Den sivile oppskytningsbasen på Ny-Ålesund er ikke bemannet utenom forskningsoppdragene, avslutter Kolbjørn. 

    Mer informasjon

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • CREX-2 successfully launched

    The CREX-2 sounding rocket mission was successfully launched from Andøya Space December 1st, 2021.

    NASA’s Cusp Region Experiment-2, also known as CREX-2, is the final research rocket to launch in the international project Grand Challenge Initiative Project Cusp.

    – The project consisted of 12 rockets from three nations, says Kolbjørn Blix, Director of Sounding rockets at Andøya Space. – USA, Norway, and Japan. The Japanese mission successfully launched about a month ago from our launch facilities at Svalbard.

    The main objective of the project is to investigate the polar cusp region, a region formed by Earth’s magnetic field.

    – The magnetic field forms a kind of a funnel stretching from our atmosphere down towards Earth’s core, and inside this funnel the air is noticeable denser than elsewhere, says Kolbjørn. – This affects polar orbiting satellites, as they hit a kind of speed bump when they pass through this area.

    Image with visualization of Earth and its magnetic field in the correct scale
    Visualization of Earth and its magnetic field in the correct scale.

    The participants in the Grand Challenge-project share all their research data with each other, making it possible to achieve greater insight into this highly interesting cusp region.

    CREX-2 is led by Professor Mark Conde from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the vehicle was built at NASA Wallops.

    – The rocket carried 20 canisters of vapor tracers which was released into the atmosphere, says Kolbjørn. – Each of these canisters created a small cloud which was then observed by two ground stations at Svalbard and by an airplane flying out from Iceland.

    CREX-2 launch from Andøya Space seen from Andenes

    – The movement of these tiny clouds observed from multiple angles will help scientists understand more about the physics in the cusp area, says Kolbjørn.

    The sounding rocket was launched from Andøya on December 1st, at 0925 UTC, and reached an apogee at about 634 kilometers.

    – The flight was nominal, and they launched into perfect scientific conditions, says Kolbjørn. – The scientists are very, very happy today.

    Read more

    Read more about the Grand Challenge project here:

    More information

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • Sounding rocket SS-520-3 launched from Svalbard

    The Japanese research rocket SS-520-3 was launched from Ny-Ålesund November 4th, 2021, to investigate the cusp region as a part of the Grand Challenge Initiative Project Cusp.

    The cusp region is a funnel created by Earth’s magnetic field, and the region is the focus of a project spanning several research teams with twelve sounding rockets. The Grand Challenge Initiative Project Cusp is designed to advance the common understanding of the space physics in the cusp region.

    The Japanese rocket’s specific purpose was to investigate the microscopic mechanism of the ion acceleration/heating in the cusp region by carrying out high time resolution in-situ measurements of the plasma particles and plasma waves.

    Video of the SS-520-3 liftoff from the Andøya Space launch site at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard. Video by Thomas Gansmoe, used with permission.

    The two-stage sounding rocket had a nominal, suborbital flight and was able to successfully make in-situ measurements of the cusp region. Telemetry antennas at Ny-Ålesund, Longyearbyen and Andøya participated in the mission.

    The rocket reached an apogee of about 750 km.

    Principal investigator for this mission was Professor Yoshifumi Saito from JAXA.

    More to read

    Read more about the Grand Challenge Initiative here:

    More information

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • The Grand Challenge Initiative – How to get the most science out of a sounding rocket

    Sounding rockets are used to investigate the atmosphere and the Earth’s magnetic field and have been launched from Andøya since 1962. Sounding rockets are cheap compared to satellite missions, but they still come with a price tag. So how can the amount of scientific data be increased and the yield from such missions maximized?

    – The answer is to launch several sounding rockets at the same time, along with doing measurements by instruments on other platforms, from the ground, from balloons, and from satellites in orbit, says Kolbjørn Blix at Andøya Space.

    This is what the Grand Challenge Initiative is doing in two projects. The Initiative is a large-scale, international collaboration targeting advancement in specific, fundamental issues in space and Earth science.

    – By taking these independently initiated missions and coordinating them we saw a tremendous increase in scientific return, says Blix.

    Science data from all platforms involved is shared amongst the participants, giving researchers access to a larger data set than what they otherwise would be able to obtain individually.

    Illustration of the cusp, the part of the Earth's magnetic field that funnels down into the polar regions
    The cusp is the part of the Earth’s magnetic field that funnels down into the polar regions.

    Project Cusp

    The first project, called Project Cusp, investigates the physics of the heating and the charged particles in the cusp region of the ionosphere.

    The cusp is the part of the Earth’s magnetic field that funnels down into the polar regions. The ionosphere is the upper part of the atmosphere. Here particles from the solar wind, trapped in the cusp, cause the aurora borealis.

    –Project Cusp includes twelve sounding rockets from three nations; Japan, Norway, and the US, says Blix. He is one of the founders and organizers of The Grand Challenge Initiative.

    The first of these sounding rockets were launched from Andøya and from Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, on a trajectory through the Arctic cusp. At the same time ground-based instruments in Finland, Iceland and Norway observed the same region by remote sensing.

    The two remaining sounding rockets in the project will be launched in the fall of 2021.

    Illustration showing the different layers of spheres in the miccle atmosphere
    The mesosphere and the lower thermosphere are layers of the middle atmosphere.

    Project Mesosphere / Lower Thermosphere

    The success of Project Cusp paved the way for Project Mesosphere / Lower Thermosphere, the second project of the initiative. The mesosphere and the lower thermosphere are layers of the middle atmosphere.

    – Project Mesosphere / Lower Thermosphere will study this part of the atmosphere using a multitude of platforms and instruments, says Blix.

    This project involves several teams of scientists and students from nine countries: Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, the UK, and the US.

    Measurements from more parts of the world

    – This project will be looking at the middle atmosphere and investigations can be done not just in the Arctic but in other parts of the world as well, by combining measurements from sounding rockets with data taken from balloon, airplane, satellite and the ground, says Blix.

    All these investigations must be coordinated and grouped together so that they best complement each other and maximize the scientific return.

    – This also gives us a redundancy in instrumentation, which is another advantage of doing things this way, Blix says.

    As in Project Cusp, Project Mesosphere / Lower Thermosphere will have a common database for adding and sharing data as easily and as efficiently as possible.

    Launches planned for 2023

    Although it has been difficult for the scientists and students in the Project Mesosphere / Lower Thermosphere to meet due to corona restrictions, the project had successful preparatory workshops both in the summer of 2020 and 2021.

    – These workshops were parts of the virtual scientific conferences CEDAR 2020 and 2021, and eighty researchers from our nine participating countries met on video where we had presentations and status updates about the individual projects involved, Blix says.

    He hopes it will be possible for the participants to meet in person at a conference in New Orleans in December 2021.

    The first sounding rockets in the Project Mesosphere / Lower Thermosphere will be launched from Andøya Space in 2023.

    More to read

    More information

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • Safer flights for drones and small aircraft

    Operating drones in sub-zero temperatures can cause both damage and lead to loss of vehicle. How can we make flights safer for drones and small piloted aircraft during winter and at higher latitude?

    Commercial drones and small aircraft are utilized more and more the world over, for a wide range of applications, such as agriculture, construction, communication, surveillance and transportation of goods. The use of drones is expected to increase greatly in the years ahead.

    However, drones risk icing while flying in sub-zero temperatures and have no way of de-icing. Thus, operating drones in sub-zero conditions introduces the risk of rotor failure and crashing to the ground, which can result in damage to or loss of the airborne platform, the freight, or in the worst case scenario, damage or injury to third parties’ health or property.

    How can flight safety in sub-zero temperatures be increased to enable drones and small aircraft to operate during winter and at higher latitudes? This is the aim of the IceSafari project.

    The IceSafari project is a cooperation between Andøya Space with partners in Norway and Romania. The project aims to increase flight safety for drones and small aircraft by avoiding icing conditions, which occur at temperatures below 0ºC and high humidity, like in supercooled fog and clouds.

    A key project

    – For Andøya Space, IceSafari is an important project, because we make use of our expertise on rocket payloads to serve a new scientific community. The research focus is the lower part of the atmosphere using research aircrafts and drones. In addition, our own increasing drone and aircraft activities will gain safety, since icing conditions are common at our latitudes, says Michael Gausa, Director of Research and Development.

    The project aims to obtain data in three flight campaigns, planned to take place in Norway, Poland and Romania. The sensor and instrument development through IceSafari is expected to be a door opener for future participation in international satellite validation campaigns and in further activities related to research and applied science.

    – Flight campaigns for scientific research is a new but growing sector for us here at Andøya Space, which we are very excited to do, Gausa says.

    Illustration of unmanned aircraft
    Unmanned aircraft may avoid bad weather with the IceWarn sensor.

    The IceWarn sensor

    The IceSafari project will develop a cluster of sensors called IceWarn, an early warning system of icing conditions for commercial drones, enabling them to avoid areas with such conditions.

    In order to develop this early warning system, the IceSafari team first needs to advance the understanding of mixed-phase clouds. These are clouds that consist of super cooled liquid droplets and ice particles and pose the greatest threat to drones and aircraft due to icing.

    Image of sky and ocean
    The IceWarn sensor will warn the pilot of icing conditions.

    The IceWarn sensor system will monitor the ambient conditions of the air and evaluate the risk of icing. If icing conditions are imminent, the system will alert the pilot of the impending danger.

    The engineering team at Andøya Space will first select sensors that can endure condensation and precipitation at low temperatures. They will conduct both field and laboratory studies to identify which sensors are best suited for such work.

    IceWarn must also be extremely lightweight and energy efficient in order to be suitable for drone platforms.

    The HoloScene cloud probe

    However, measuring the correct temperature and humidity is not sufficient alone to determine icing conditions, and the amount of super cooled liquid in mixed-phase clouds depends on complex microphysics at the micrometer scale.

    Calculations of super cooled liquid droplets have been a challenge in both numerical weather predictions and climate simulations for years.

    The development of IceWarn needs comprehensive knowledge of the microphysics of mixed-phase clouds in temperatures between -38 and 0 °C. This will require an extensive dataset of airborne in-situ measurements of the properties of mixed-phase clouds.

    Therefore, the IceSafari team at Andøya Space will, together with their partners, develop an aircraft certified holographic cloud probe called HoloScene. The probe is based on earlier models, originally used on tethered balloons, gondolas etc. HoloScene will measure the cloud droplet, ice crystal size and number concentration, as well as the spatial distribution of cloud particles, in order to develop the numerical models that IceWarn needs.

    Partnership with Romania

    The cooperation in IceSafari will establish a long-term partnership between Norwegian and Romanian research institutions. These are Andøya Space, the National Institute for Aerospace Research “Elie Carafoli” (INCAS) in Romania, the University of Oslo in Norway and the University of Bucharest in Romania (UBFF).

    This collaboration will strengthen the capabilities of the partners to conduct airborne cloud research and related numerical modeling in order to advance the frontier of research on climate change, severe weather and icing phenomena.

    The partnership will train master and PhD students in a broad specter of scientific and engineering fields to ensure a complete cycle of knowledge and transfer between the participants, and to support the effort of Romanian organizations to increase their participation in European and international research and development programs.

    Image with IceSafari and Norway grants logo

    The IceSafari project is funded by UEFISCDI under the research programme associated with Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2014-2012 – Norway Grants. Project code RO-NO-2019-0423.

    Point of Contact at Andøya Space:

    Michael Gausa, Director of Research & Development

    Read more

    You can read more about the project here:

  • Where does the water in rain and snow come from?

    The research project ISLAS studies the water cycle in the Norwegian Sea, and where the precipitation in Norway comes from during different weather events. This spring, the ISLAS scientists made simultaneous measurements at Andøya and other locations.

    Isotopic Links to Atmospheric Water’s Sources (ISLAS) is a research project funded by the European Research Council that investigates the water cycle, including its processes during evaporation, transport and mixing, cloud formation and precipitation.

    – The hydrological cycle, with its feedbacks related to water vapor and clouds, is a large source of uncertainty in weather prediction and climate models, says Harald Sodemann, professor in meteorology at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Bergen and member of the Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research.

    This uncertainty is linked to several of the current major challenges in meteorology and climate research. These challenges include the forecasting of extreme weather events, preparing for the impacts of man-made climate change, but also the understanding of the paleoclimate record from the past.

    However, using precise measurements of stable isotopes in water vapor, rain and snow, the scientists can find out where the water in precipitation comes from, and how it changes from liquid to solid or vapor, and back to liquid again, during its journey through the water cycle in the atmosphere.

    Illustration of cold-air outbreaks and atmospheric river in the Nordic Seas region
    The ISLAS project sampled the local water cycle in the Nordic Seas region at Andenes with stable isotope instrumentation. Image: Harald Sodemann

    A natural laboratory

    -Because the Arctic, the Norwegian Sea and the coast of Norway together create distinct evaporation events, shallow transport processes of water, and swift formation of precipitation, the entire water cycle can be studied here, says Sodemann.

    This is why the ISLAS team visited Andøya Space and its atmospheric observatory Alomar. Together with colleagues from other universities, the ISLAS scientists used Alomar’s lidar and radar systems to investigate ice crystals in clouds and precipitation, and how they change from ice to rain.

    The team also used their own instruments to measure the size and number of raindrops, the stable isotopes in water vapor, and other aspects of the water cycle.

    – We brought a lot of instruments to Andøya in order to do many types of measurements at the same time in the same location, so that we can gain a detailed understanding of the processes of the water cycle here, says Sodemann.

    Simultaneous measurements

    The ISLAS instruments were located both at Alomar, at 380 meters height, and near sea level below the mountain where Alomar is located. In this way the scientists hoped to gain information about how much water raindrops absorb as they fall through the lower atmosphere, as well as data about other precipitation processes that take place on the way from cloud to ground.

    In addition, the scientists had similar sensors in Tromsø, in order to detect the horizontal gradient between Andøya and Tromsø.

    – Even though these locations are not that far apart, we nevertheless expect clear differences between them, for example the time when a storm arrives at both places, Sodemann says.

    Other sensors are placed in Bergen on the west coast of Norway and at Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard in the high Arctic.

    Improve weather forecasting

    This year’s research campaign for ISLAS was intense, but short. Already on the 1st of April 2021 the scientists completed their measurements and returned home.

    – We nevertheless expect to obtain the data we need, because the highly variable weather here at Andøya gives us many different meteorological events within a short period of time, says Sodemann.

    He and the ISLAS team plan to return to Andøya next spring for more data from the same locations, while hoping to add measurements by plane and ship.

    The results from ISLAS will be used to improve mathematical models of weather and climate, including short-term and high-resolution weather forecasting.

    In addition to the participants from Norway, the ISLAS campaign involves scientists from universities and research institutions both in Europe and in North America.

    – We see that close collaboration with scientists at other research institutions and in other parts of the world is very important to achieve our research goals. For us, it seems essential that what we do creates shared knowledge that benefits society as a whole, Sodemann says.

    A service provider for science

    – We are very pleased to welcome the ISLAS scientists to Andøya, says Michael Gausa, Director of Research and Development at Andøya Space.

    Andøya Space aims to offer operational drone and aircraft services for scientists. Commercial drone operations, as well as training and certification services for these, are already well established. The drone services have a wide range of applications, from maritime surveillance and resource management to search and rescue operations, construction inspection and many more.

    – The ISLAS campaign is an important step to complete our portfolio for scientific airborne operations. It enables us to listen closely to our guests in order to improve our infrastructure and knowledge, and to better reach the international research community and inform them of our drone services for scientific purposes, Gausa says.

    Andøya Space has recently acquired an airplane, which in the future can perform in-situ and remote sensing measurements from the air, in the air, and of the air. This will open new doors for Andøya Space, which has a decades-long experience in sub-orbital launches of sounding rockets and research balloons and is building a launch site for small satellites.

    Andøya and its location well above the Arctic circle, on the coast of the Norwegian Sea, is especially well suited for space, atmospheric and climate research.

    – With our newly acquired plane we will soon have the capacity to be a full-service provider for scientific research that is dependent on measurements by drone or by plane, Gausa says.

  • ICI-5 Launched from Svalbard

    The main scientific instruments were the two Andøya Space/University of Oslo (UiO) 4DSpace modules, each containing ejectable 6 sub-payloads.

    These 12 “daughters” were to be ejected 4 by 4 as the rocket passed 196km (last ejection at 204 km) altitude on its way up into space, and immediately start communicating their “UiO Multi-Needle Langmuir Probe (mNLP) measurements of electron densities to the main module onboard the sounding rocket payload. This way, the 4DSpace experiment would enable the Grand Challenge Initiative Cusp (GCI Cusp) scientists to find out whether GPS signal disturbances are created by auroral electron beams or by some other instability mechanism. This is critical knowledge in order to develop a space weather model to forecast GPS positioning problems in the arctic.

    In addition to the 4DSpace experiments, the ICI-5 payload also brought these instruments:

    Bifocal Sensor electron spectrometer – Universitu of Iowa (U Iowa), Electric Field and Wave experiment – UiO, Miniaturized Fluxgate Magnetometer – U Iowa, Sounding Rocket Attitude Detection System (SRADS) – UiO and Distribution of Energetic Electrons and Protons (DEEP) – University of Bergen (UiB).

    Following the launch, it was quickly reported that science team picked a prime science event.  All payload events were reported as nominal and a solid track was provided by both the Norwegian and NASA ground assets.  Then the team experienced the occasional roller coaster ride that is sounding rockets.

    Unfortunately, after data review, it was apparent that a roll rate anomaly was experienced, precluding the instruments from functioning as intended.

    ICI-5 had a maximum altitude of 252 km and was the Norwegian participation in the major international sounding rocket project – Grand Challenge Initiative Cusp. Currently, there are two more GCI Cusp rockets on the rails awaiting launch from Andøya and Ny-Ålesund.

    ICI-5 mission highlights:

    • In a cooperative effort between Andøya Space and University of Oslo, researchers and engineers have developed the 4DSpace measurement technology. A unique concept.
    • The team was able to effectively pinpoint and launch a sounding rocket through a thin northern auroral arc, which have a 10-min lifespan and move in space. This is expertise the teams from UiO, The University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), UiB and Andøya Space have built up together. This expertise is in high demand in the GCI Cusp and similar projects.
    • Potentially, 3 new instruments were space tested: BIFOCAL electron spectrometer from Iowa, Flux Gate Magnetometer from Iowa, and a high energy particle detector from UiB. Later, data will show whether these have been lifted from TRL 1-2 to level 5-6 (for satellites). If so, this is worth millions of dollars.
    • ICI-5 is the Norwegian share in GCI Cusp Initiative. ICI-5 PI is also project scientist for GCI Cusp and Norwegian scientists are also involved in ten other rocket missions.
    • With GCI Cusp, an “international Cusp observation system” for SIOS is under construction, which will later be filled with data from both rockets, satellites and ground data. This is important for the international space community.

    More information

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space

  • G-CHASER Mission Successfully Launched

    It’s the only student flight in the Grand Challenge, flying several student experiments on one rocket, each one a different mission that is unique to their team.

    With seven different experiments flying on the same rocket, work on G-CHASER has been an exercise in coordination since it’s early beginnings in 2016. However, today at 09:13:00 UT, the two stage rocket ascended into the skies above Andøya, reaching its calculated altitude of 174 km. So far, all experiments seem to have worked as they were supposed to.

    More information

    Please contact Kolbjørn Blix, VP Sub-Orbital, Andøya Space