Company Testing Rocket Technology

ABC 7 News    A big rig tows a rocket from Building 397 on the way to a test on the former Naval Air Station runways.

Last Friday afternoon, the pilot of ABC’s news helicopter Sky7 decided to take a spin over Alameda Point. What he saw and his helicopter photographed set the aeronautics community buzzing. “SKY7 spots stealthy space startup testing its rocket in Alameda,” the headline announced over Channel 7 reporter Jonathan Bloom’s story. 

The Alameda Sun learned from Bloom’s report that the folks behind that rocket test worked for Astra Space. The company designs, tests, manufactures and operates next-generation launch services. 

In 2015 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) selected the company for a pair of research awards to develop propulsion systems for use in space and — in the words of the press release announcing the award — “on other worlds.” One of the awards is financing the company’s research, a “pump-fed propulsion system for a Mars ascent vehicle.”

Astra Space works in Building 397, a 17,400-square-foot structure that the Navy built 50 years ago. The facility was used to overhaul aircraft and test jet engines. “Staff hope that (the company) will … consider expanding its innovative operations or be a catalyst for other similar companies,” city staff stated in a report to the City Council.