Curiosity, concern over mysterious rocket being built in East Bay

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ByEric Thomas KGO logo
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Curiosity, concern over mysterious rocket being built in East Bay
What is a rocket doing in the Bay Area? A mysterious missile has been spotted in Alameda.

ALAMEDA, Calif. (KGO) -- What's a rocket doing in the East Bay? That's what one ABC7 viewer wants to know.

So ABC7 did some digging and it goes back to a story we first told you about in February.

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It concerns a company at the old Alameda Naval Air Station that makes a small rocket to carry tiny commercial satellites into orbit. But the company doesn't talk to the media. So, some people who work nearby are just learning about it, like Tyler Mitchell at the St. George Spirit Company a few blocks away:

"I think there's a lot of empty space here. Why not put it to good use? I would just be concerned to know what it's actually for," he said.

So would some of the people who live nearby.

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Jeremy Rice sent us some video when he saw the rocket while on a stroll near his home. He told us that he's curious about the space ship and that he worries about safety.

"I don't know if it's fueled up, is my main concern. Like I said, I'm really close to it. You can go on YouTube and see a bunch of rockets blowing up and they don't make small explosions," he said.

The rocket belongs to a startup called Astra. They won't talk to us on camera. But their application to operate in Alameda says the company is building the next generation of rocket to launch satellites weighing 100 kilograms into orbit, compared to a much larger SpaceX rocket designed to lift 56,000 kilograms into space.

The Alameda Fire Department couldn't tell us if they store flammable rocket fuels on site, but by phone, fire captain Jim Colburn says Astra is complying with safety codes.

"This company has been a willing partner of the city and the fire department to operate in a very safe fashion. We're very pleased in how seriously they've taken their business and we honestly have no issues at this point with how they are conducting their business," he said.