to the

Association in Scotland To Research into Astronautics

(often referred to simply as 'ASTRA').


The society and its members have a number of areas of interest including spaceflight, astronomy, amateur rocketry and SETI. The society's website gives an insight into these activities, along with some background information about the society, its history and its members.


The society also operates one of four public observatories on behalf of North Lanarkshire Council. Information concerning ASTRA's involvement with Airdrie Public Observatory maybe found within this website.


The content of the website covers a number of different areas of activities and interests. As a result a number of links have been built into each webpage in an attempt to help users 'navigate' around the site.


Because of the number of links within the webpages it may be possible to head off in a direction which leads you away from the information you are seeking, therefore it may sometimes be necessary for the user to use their browser's 'back' button to help them back to their 'desired route'.


Alternately, you will find an 'A to Z index' link at the bottom of each page (excluding obituaries) will may assist your navigation around the website.


It is hoped that you find this site informative and interesting. I would always be interested to receive any comments which you may feel like sharing, including constructive criticism.


The pages within this website have been designed to be viewed with the browser program set to the 'Full Page View' option. The Font within these pages has been set to Geneva, so to ensure the best result you should check to see that your browser program has been set-up to recognise Geneva font.

Occasionally pages will be updated and therefore you may find some pages under construction/reconstruction, it is hoped that this will not cause a problem in relation to your enjoyment of the site.



ASTRA Program

ASTRA Home page

ASTRA History

Airdrie Activities

Airdrie Public Observatory

Contact Info

Members Info








Society News

Travel Directions








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A brief introduction to the society



The Association was formed in 1953 by Oscar Schwiglhofer, a former student of Professor Hemann Oberth, who was our first honorary member. The group began as a Scottish branch of the British Interplanetary Society (B.I.S.), before becoming independent as ASTRA, (Association in Scotland To Research into Astronautics), in 1963, and becoming a charitable company limited by guarantee in 1976.


A detailed webpage of ASTRA's history is available on a separate part of this website.



ASTRA's objectives are to:

Stimulate and further public interest in all aspects of space research. This objective is carried out via a number of different activities, including public meetings/lectures, exhibitions and publications.


Engage in practical research into astronautics. ASTRA has been involved in a number of practical projects, including Amateur Rocketry, Astronomy, a satellite tracking station and Waverider re-entry vehicle.


Branch Activities

In the past ASTRA has had a number of branches based in different parts of the country. Currently there are two active branches, one in Glasgow, which usually meets once a month and the Airdrie branch, which meets every Friday evening at the Airdrie Arts Centre in Anderson Street. The Airdrie branch covers basically the geographical area of Monklands.


Exhibitions: ongoing since the 1970's. This activity has mainly been supported by Duncan Lunan, the society's President. ASTRA exhibitions have been held at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, World Science Fiction Conventions (Worldcons), Airdrie Public Observatory and the Coats Observatory in Paisley.


Solar Sails: A continuing study of design and applications of the 'Solaris' sail.


Waverider re-entry vehicle: designed by Professor Terence Nonweiler, a New Zealander working at the University of Glasgow, for the British Space Programme - which was cancelled in 1960. Since the Royal Aircraft Establishment ceased research on the Waverider, ASTRA has continued to keep the concept alive, which included raising the interest of NASA and JPL in Waverider. In 1990 the University of Maryland hosted the first International Waverider Conference, co-sponsored by NASA. Wind tunnel tests were conducted successfully by McDonnell-Douglas in 1993.



Funding for ASTRA activities comes from a number of sources. A grant from North Lanarkshire District Council covers costs for guest speakers at astronomy lectures given at the Airdrie meetings. The rest of the societies funding comes from membership subscriptions, sponsorships and donations.

Membership details can also be obtained from George McCue. Currently the full membership rate is £15 per annum (January to December), £10 for students in full time education and any person who is unwaged. There is also a junior membership rate of £5 for young people under the age of 18, as well as a family membership for £23.

As a charity ASTRA is always pleased to welcome new members who are interested in supporting our aims and objectives.

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ASTRA Program | ASTRA Info | ASTRA History | Airdrie Activities | Publications

Airdrie Public Observatory | Contact Info | Members Info

Astronomy | Rocketry | Waverider | X-Craft | SETI | Links | Society News | Travel Directions


Website Author: Nick Portwin (

© 1998 - The material contained within this Web page is copyrighted by ASTRA on behalf of a number of individuals who have contributed to this website.

The material within this website may be reproduced for educational none-profit making purposes. The only condition imposed for reproducing this material is that you acknowledge the source of the material. This acknowledgement should include ASTRA's website address ( as well as ASTRA's email address (

Date Last Modified: 31 07 1999