The Poker Flats Research Range is
located 33 miles northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska on the Steese Highway. The
5,132-acre site is the world's largest, land-based rocket range and the
world's only scientific rocket launching facility owned by a university.
It has an established chain of downrange flight and observing facilities
from inland Alaska to Spitzbergen in the Arctic Ocean for monitoring and
Activities of Facility
The facility is operated by the University of Alaska's Geophysical Institute under contract to NASA's Wallaps
Flight Facility, which is part of the Goddard Space Flight Center. In addition to
launching sounding rockets, Poker Flat is home to many scientific instruments designed to
study the arctic atmosphere and ionosphere. Since the
aurora is best studied in the dark of winter, actual launches are scheduled every two
years in winter.
The research facility used to offer guided walking tours. Regrettably, they
no longer do.
Their web site can be found
If you want to use your trip meter to help you find it, the
range is located about 27 miles from the intersection of the Steese Expressway and College
Road. Allow yourself at least 45 minutes to get there from Fairbanks, as some of the
curves on the Steese are treacherous.
Drive out the Steese Expressway north. In Fox, turn right at the
scales (sign is marked "Steese" and means the Old Steese Highway). From there
you will be going about 18 miles. When you get to a Y in the road with no signs to tell
you what to do, take the left hand fork. You will pass Chatanika Lodge (on your right)
about .9 miles before you see a large rocket on your right. Since they no
longer do tours, the gates may be locked.
For more information you can try to call (907) 474-7942,
or (907) 474-7558.