Driving from Fort Ord California. On leave. Going south just north of Vandnberd AFB. 3 am, clear night. A light with no tail was rising what appeared to be over the base. I thought it was a barium rocket, but was wrong time of day for that test. I stopped the car and watched this light rise and stop at about 5,000 feet altitude. This ball or light started to glow brighter and as it did the object appeared to grow in size. This light would get bright and large and small and dim. This went on for 30 seconds or so. Then it got very bright and large and shot off on a 45 deg angle and was done in a few seconds. No sigh of engine exhaust, as in a rocket or jet. My feeling were, this is not normal. What do we have that can hover, pulsate with light and shoot off in a matter of seconds ? Is the Air Force hiding or testing something? I had not been drinking, stoned or emotionally tripping when I saw this.