|Royal Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace|
Andøya Space Center, formerly named Andøya Rocket Range, is a rocket launch site, rocket range, and spaceport on Andøya island (the northernmost in the Vesterålen archipelago) in Andøy Municipality in Nordland county, Norway. Since 1962, over 1,200 sounding and sub-orbital rockets of various configurations have been launched from the site.
Andøya Space Center is a civilian aksjeselskap (limited liability company) with its ownership split between two groups: 90% by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry, and 10% by Kongsberg Defence Systems company. It operates on a commercial basis but is operated by the Norwegian Space Agency, a government agency within the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Andøya Space Center also remotely supports the SvalRak launch facility in Svalbard to the north. The facility has provided operations for both ESA and NASA missions and scientific research.
This section needs expansion with: Andoya rocket range history prior to the establishment of the 2nd rocket range in 1997. You can help by adding to it. (April 2018)
In 1997, a second launch site--Svalbard Rocket Range--was established at Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, enabling scientists to launch sounding rockets straight in the polar cusp, where the earth's magnetic field lines converge.
A ground-based, lidar observatory, ALOMAR (Arctic Lidar Observatory for Middle Atmosphere Research) opened in 1994, and is considered[by whom?] unique in atmospheric research in the Arctic. The range is also host of northern Europe's largest VHF-radar.
In 1995, a Black Brant sounding rocket launched from Andøya caused a high alert in Russia, known as the Norwegian Rocket Incident. The Russians thought it might be a nuclear missile launched from an American submarine. President Boris Yeltsin was alerted for a possible counter strike, when the Russians understood that it was not heading towards Russia. The Russians were informed in advance about the launch by the rocket range personnel, but this information was lost in the Russian military organisation.
The space center changed its name from Andøya Rocket Range on 6 June 2014 to reflect an increased focus on also other activities than sounding rockets, though rocketry is still its main focus. Other activities are UAVs, lidar and radar measurements for atmospheric research and also a test center for missiles through its subsidiary Andøya Test Center.
Andøya has been proposed as a spaceport for launching orbital Nanosatellite launch vehicles (NLVs). In January 2013, the Nammo company and the Andøya Rocket Range announced that they would be "developing a rocket system called North Star that will use a standardized hybrid motor, clustered in different numbers and arrangements, to build two types of sounding rockets and an orbital launcher" that would be able to deliver a 10 kg (22 lb) nanosat into polar orbit.[needs update]