Welcome to Poker Flat

Welcome to Poker Flat Research Range – the largest land-based rocket research range in the world and the only high-latitude rocket range in the United States. Poker Flat launches scientific sounding rockets, performs satellite tracking and is home to a growing fleet of unmanned aircraft.

Poker Flat Research Range is perfectly located in Interior Alaska. From this site, rockets can launch and fly over the sparsely populated tundra hundreds of miles north of the range with special permission from federal, state and tribal landowners. Additionally, the range is situated beneath the auroral oval – a ring across the circumpolar north where auroras typically occur – providing ample opportunities to continue scientists’ examination of the aurora. Most sounding rocket launches occur between January and March and scientists come from around the world to use the facility for their research projects.

The range's expansion into the burgeoning field of unmanned aircraft began in 2004. Today, the range has more than two-dozen models that range in size from a 2.5-pound quad-rotor Aeryon Scout to the 40-pound fixed-wing Insitu A-20. Personnel dedicated to the unmanned aircraft efforts are deployed across Alaska to assist in projects that are hazardous or difficult for manned aircraft to maneuver in.

MTeX 46.009/46.010 Collins ​Mission 2015

MIST 41.111/41.112 Larsen Mission 2015

ASSP 49.002 Swenson Mission 2015

GREECE 36.287 Samara Mission 2014

General Information

Poker Flat Research Range is the world's only scientific rocket launching facility owned by a university. Poker Flat is located approximately 30 miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska and is operated by the University of Alaska's Geophysical Institute under contract to NASA's Wallops 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.

Contact Us

Physical Address

Poker Flat Research Range
30 Mile Steese Hwy
Fairbanks, AK 99712

Geophysical Institute

Poker Flat Research Range
Geophysical Institute
P.O. Box 757320
903 Koyukuk Drive
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7320

Phone Numbers

Our hours are from 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, Alaska time.
Office: (907) 455-2110
Fax: (907) 455-2120


The following staff are located at Poker Flat and may be reached at (907) 455-2110.

Kathe Rich
Range Manager
(907) 455-2103

Bob Valdez
Assistant Range Manager
(907) 455-2111

Cheryl Berrong
Admin Assistant
(907) 455-2110

Dr. Don Hampton
Optical Science Manager
(907) 455-2256

Jason Avila
2nd Shift Facilities Supervisor
(907) 455-2150

Tony Tyree
Facilities Maintenance Assistant
(907) 455-2150

Dr. Richard Collins
LIDAR Lab Manager & Associate Director of the Geophysical Institute
(907) 455-2204


Kevin Abnett, Contractor
Optics and Communications Engineer
(907) 455-2251

Jonathan Sawyer
Consulting Webmaster