Astra Rocket Factory Expanding

Everything is looking up at Alameda Point rocket manufacturer Astra.  Contracts to launch small satellites are up, partnerships are up, and capital investments in the company are up.  And now the company is ready to expand its facility.

Astra is headquartered at 1900 Skyhawk Street in Building 360, next to the Main Street Soccer Field.  The building was formerly used for repairing jet engines and is still owned by the Navy due to groundwater contamination that is undergoing remediation.  Astra renovated the southern portion of the building in 2018 and 2019 under a license agreement with the City of Alameda to begin manufacturing rockets.  Its rocket engines are tested in a facility across the street that was formerly used by the Navy to test jet engines.

In April 2021, the company received the go-ahead from the Navy and regulators to finish renovating Building 360 to expand rocket production.  On May 25, the city issued a building permit for the northern portion of the 180,000 square-foot building.

Continue reading “Astra Rocket Factory Expanding”

Artisan bakery bringing in the dough for social good

A new artisan bakery with a noble mission is coming to Alameda.  Firebrand Artisan Breads of Oakland will be moving most of its production facilities to a renovated warehouse at Alameda Point in the coming months, bringing most of its 90 employees and hiring more. 

Customers know this bakery by the taste of its gourmet baked goods and deli selections.  Employees know this bakery by the taste of a life-changing opportunity for a good job. The company will employ up to 150 people striving to overcome employment barriers, such as previously being homeless and previously incarcerated. Continue reading “Artisan bakery bringing in the dough for social good”

Mystery rocket company goes public at Alameda Point

Updated February 25, 2020.

In early February 2020, Astra posted a video giving the public and potential customers a look inside their rocket assembly plant at Alameda Point.

Last week on February 18, the company shipped its latest rocket to the Pacific Spaceport Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska.  The rocket will be launched in the coming days to test its ability to place small satellites into low Earth orbit.

This video shows the journey from Alameda Point to Alaska: Continue reading “Mystery rocket company goes public at Alameda Point”

Environmentalists sink Nautilus data center

The proposal by Nautilus Data Technologies to set up a water-cooled data storage facility at Alameda Point was soundly rejected by the Alameda City Council on June 18.  The facility would have pumped over 14 million gallons of water a day through its facility to cool computer servers.  The company said water cooling is better for the environment than existing air conditioning technology.  But by the time the environmental community was finished weighing in, it was clear that the Nautilus once-through cooling system would have replaced one problem by creating a new one.

The screen on the intake pipe underneath Pier 2 sounded good, until you consider that all the water coming out the other end in the Bay would have been filtered water that would have upset the natural ecological balance.  Marine life would have been pasted against the intake screen and periodically scraped off.  Tiny organisms would have made it through the screen and potentially been killed by the heat.  The heated water at the point of discharge was another big concern, since warming water is one of the conditions in which toxic algae blooms occur.

Below are excerpts from letters sent by environmental groups to the city council and excerpts of public comments at the meeting.  Thank you to all who spoke up for the natural world and our fragile Bay ecosystem. Continue reading “Environmentalists sink Nautilus data center”

10 reasons why data center should change water cooling pipe location

Open Letter to Mr. James Connaughton
Chief Executive Officer
Nautilus Data Technologies

Dear  Mr. Connaughton,

The Alameda City Council has granted you approval of moving forward with your data storage facility at Alameda Point.  Please reconsider the route for discharging warm water from the cooling system.  Instead of heading south under the Bay Trail and through the harbor near the ferry maintenance facility, send the water discharge pipe north to the Oakland Estuary.

As someone who was instrumental in protecting large tracts of the Pacific Ocean during your tenure as environmental advisor to President George W. Bush, I believe the alternative route will appeal to your marine conservation values. Continue reading “10 reasons why data center should change water cooling pipe location”

Water-cooled data center proposal . . . not so cool

Nautilus Data Technologies is proposing to convert Building 530, located at 120 West Oriskany Avenue at Alameda Point, into a data storage facility.  The facility would draw 10,000 gallons of water a minute from underneath Pier 2 in order to cool the racks of computer servers.  The warmer water, about 4 degrees warmer, would be discharged into San Francisco Bay.  Water cooling is a cheaper alternative than traditional air conditioning.

The proposal will be voted on at the May 7 city council meeting.

Here are some points made in the city staff report in support of the proposal, followed by reasons why this proposal does not deserve support.

PointThe city staff report claims that the facility will be environmentally friendly because water cooling will use less electricity for cooling than traditional air conditioning.

CounterpointStarting in 2020, all of Alameda Municipal Power (AMP) electricity will be carbon free, producing zero greenhouse gas.  Reducing electrical usage in Alameda is not an environmental benefit, only a cost-saving benefit to the business. Continue reading “Water-cooled data center proposal . . . not so cool”

Rocket manufacturing coming to Alameda Point

Alameda Point has specialty craft breweries and distilleries.   Coming soon – craft rockets.  Startup company Astra Space hopes to sell its economy-sized rockets to any entity wanting to launch its own small satellite into low earth orbit.

On April 22, the city council and members of the public got a tour of its nearly completed production facility prior to a special meeting of the council.  The meeting was billed as a recommendation to authorize the city’s commercial real estate broker Cushman and Wakefield to market a 24-acre industrial area in the commercial Enterprise District to businesses and developers.  But because Cushman and Wakefield had already been authorized to market the area at least twice since 2015, the real reason for the tour and meeting was to showcase a shifting strategy for the district that will now include adaptively reusing some existing buildings, rather than tearing everything down as previously envisioned. Continue reading “Rocket manufacturing coming to Alameda Point”