After Astra’s rocket launch from Kodiak on Sept. 11 ended in a fiery explosion, the California-based company said the cleanup process could take a couple of months.
The rocket landed on state-owned land between a decommissioned Coast Guard long-range navigation station and Narrow Cape, said Martin Attiq, Astra’s executive vice president of business development.
Despite the accident, Narrow Cape remains open, including the road to Fossil Beach, he said.
“The rocket landed in the established hazard areas for the mission within the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska (PSCA) controlled land,” Attiq wrote in an email. “The hazard areas are developed to ensure the highest level of public safety.”
Astra will work with the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to move forward with the clean-up process.
While the debris from the explosion has been collected, personnel must document the location of the debris, secure all the rocket parts and transport them back to Astra’s facility in Alameda, California.
They will also work with the Department of Environmental Conservation to restore the area back to its previous condition.
“The impact sites will remain cordoned off pending results on soil testing and any potential follow-up remediation, if necessary,” Attiq said.
Although Attiq could not comment on how many pounds of material were collected or how much the cleanup would cost, he mentioned that Astra rockets are made of aluminium. He also said the rocket’s fuel was mostly consumed by the impact, so the environmental cleanup should be quite manageable.
However, because the impact site is under review and investigation, Attiq said he was not able to share specific details about the impact.
Astra estimates that the rocket, Rocket 3.1, was launched to an altitude of 10,800 feet on Sept. 11 before it fell back to the ground because of issues with its guidance system.
Astra will analyze the data collected on the flight to inform its next flight with a new rocket, Rocket 3.2, which is undergoing its final round of testing.
Rocket 3.1 measured 38 feet and had a diameter of 52 inches. It consisted of a first stage powered by five electric-pump-fed engines and an upper stage propelled by one pressure-fed Aether engine.