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