Ny-Ålesund ("New Ålesund") is a research town in Oscar II Land on the island of Spitsbergen in Svalbard, Norway. It is situated on the Brøgger peninsula (Brøggerhalvøya) and on the shore of the bay of Kongsfjorden. The company town is owned and operated by Kings Bay, who provide facilities for permanent research institutes from ten countries. The town is ultimately owned by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and is not incorporated. Ny-Ålesund has an all-year permanent population of 30 to 35, with the summer population reaching 120. Its facilities include Ny-Ålesund Airport, Hamnerabben, Svalbard Rocket Range, a port and Ny-Ålesund Town and Mine Museum, as well as fifteen permanent research stations. It is the northernmost functional civilian settlement in the world.
The town was founded in 1917 by Peter Brandal and his mining company, Kings Bay Kull Comp. Initially mining was carried out until 1929, but it was unprofitable for most of the 1920s. There were a series of air expeditions launched from Ny-Ålesund towards the North Pole. The company was nationalized in 1933 and the town was for some years used for tourism and as a fishing port. Mining resumed for some months in 1941 and then from 1945. After several other fatal incidents occurred including a mining accident on 5 November 1962 that killed 21 miners in what became known as the Kings Bay Affair, mining activity was terminated and Gerhardsen's Third Cabinet resigned. Kongsfjord Telemetry Station opened in 1967 and the town gradually transformed into a research settlement. Since 1992, foreign institutions have been permitted to build permanent stations in town.
Ny-Ålesund Airport, Hamnerabben consists of a single 808-metre long and 30-metre wide gravel runway, located northwest of the settlement. Kings Bay charters Lufttransport to fly two to four weekly flights using a Dornier Do 228 aircraft to Svalbard Airport, Longyear. Tickets are only available after permission from Kings Bay. Svalbard Rocket Range is a launch site for sounding rockets. Owned by Andøya Rocket Range, its high latitude makes it well-suited for launching rockets to investigate Earth's magnetic field. It is the world's northern-most launch site.
For most non-scientists a cruise stopover is the only way of reaching Ny-Ålesund. The cheapest and fastest way appears to be Spitsbergen Travel's 3/4-day cruises from Longyearbyen, with rates starting at 7900 kr (cheapest cabin, twin sharing). Cruises operate only from May to October.
Ny-Ålesund has a road network which connects the buildings at the settlement, but this network does not extend beyond the settlement. Off-road motorized transport is prohibited on bare ground, but snowmobiles are used extensively during winter - both for commercial and recreational activities. Ny-Ålesund Harbour is operated by Kings Bay. In addition to serving the research community, it is open to commercial and recreational vessels. It has one large berth which is International Ship and Port Facility Security Code compliant and is commonly used by cruise ships. To reach the Zeppelin Station, located at 485 metres above mean sea level, there is an aerial tramway which runs up Zeppelinfjellet
Svalbard is connected to the phone grid in mainland Norway via fiber optic cable. This ensures a good quality telephone coverage in Longyearbyen, Barentsburg, Sveagruva and Ny-Ålesund. The area code for Svalbard is the same as for Norway +47. GSM mobile phones work in Longyearbyen, Svea and Barentsburg. UMTS phones can also be used in Longyearbyen.
See also: International Telephone Calls
There are several public internet terminals in Longyearbyen and internet connections are top class, thanks to NASA renting bulk capacity of undersea fiber optic cables for extreme condition experiments held in Svalbard. GSM/3G phones work in the main towns of Svalbard.
Main to and from Svalbard follows the regular Norwegian system and prices. There is also a Lokalpost system which is used for intra-Svalbard mail.
While mail from Svalbard to mainland Norway and the outside world uses regular Norwegian stamps at regular Norwegian prices, philatelists may be interested in the Lokalpost system used for intra-Svalbard mail. Stamps, first-day covers and more are available at the post offices in Longyearbyen and Barentsburg, as well as at Longyearbyen's Svalbardbutikken.
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