Successful rocket launches from Svalbard

BCSS members Postdoc Lindis Bjøland, Phd candidate Katie Herlingshaw and Prof. Kjellmar Oksavik (L to R) celebrate the successful rocket launches.


This weekend, the Birkeland Centre for Space Science (BCSS) helped NASA launch several rockets. On December 7, two rockets (VISIONS-2) were launched from Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard. See pictures here at the Eiscat Svalbard Radar facebook page.

The EISCAT Svalbard radar. (Photo: EISCAT Director Craig Heinselman).


“It was quite cloudy everywhere, so nobody could see the dayside aurora with their eyes”, professor Kjellmar Oksavik explains. “But Lindis, Katie and I were at the EISCAT Svalbard Radar. There, we used the radar to closely monitor how the aurora moved across the rocket trajectory. When conditions were right, we informed NASA. They pushed the button, and 3 minutes later the first rocket lifted off, followed by a second rocket 2 minutes later”.

Both rockets flew successfully in space for around 15 minutes. All instruments onboard the rocket performed very well and Kjellmar Oksavik could report that the rocket PI Doug Rowland and his NASA team were happy.

On December 8, Kjellmar Oksavik and his team in Svalbard again helped NASA with rocket launches. This time, two rockets called TRICE-2 flew from Andøya Space Center and over Svalbard. The event was viewed by spectators in Northern Norway and widely reported in Norwegian news media as seen in this article by NRK.

Data from the EISCAT Svalbard Radar and The Kjell Henriksen Observatory were used to identify the geomagnetic cusp region, which was the target of TRICE-2. A big congratulation to the rocket PI Craig Kletzing and his team for another successful launch! The next rocket launch is planned for the first week of January 2019 (NASA CAPER).