Alba ad Astra - Scotland’s forgotten history of space exploration

Edited by Madeleine Shepherd

Introductions by Ken MacLeod and Pippa Goldschmidt

The first human being in space was Russian. The first man on the Moon was American. However, the space race is a marathon, not a sprint. Startling evidence suggests that the longest rocket flight ever made was a classified Scottish project.

Alba ad Astra is a collaborative thought experiment celebrating Scotland’s industrial and technological heritage. Documents, photographs and testimonials have been collected by Madeleine Shepherd and contributors such as Andrew J. Wilson and Kirsti Wishart. These fragments reveal a secret part of Scotland’s history – or a new mythology.


Contributors: Ken MacLeod, Andrew J. Wilson, Pippa Goldschmidt, Gavin Inglis, Kirsti Wishart, Andrew C. Ferguson and Fergus Currie

From the introduction to this new edition of Alba ad Astra, by Pippa Goldschmidt.

Recent and repeated ‘Freedom of Information’ requests to the Scottish civil service have finally unearthed copies of Alba ad Astra, the

delay to the initial request allegedly due to the pamphlet incorrectly filed under ‘sky’ (perhaps a deliberate sleight
of hand, perhaps an administrative error) . With this – and associated information – we can now assess the importance of this pamphlet on public policy .

What is clear is that prior to the first publication of Alba ad Astra in 2009, the Scottish space industry was
only developing in a piecemeal and haphazard fashion . Although Clyde Space was founded in 2005 and has been growing steadily ever since, there seemed little appetite for actual rocketry . Scotland’s northern location makes it ideal for launching satellites into polar orbits and yet for many years neither the Westminster or Holyrood Governments

appeared able or willing to devise a space launch programme that exploited this geographical advantage .

Now for the first time, we can reveal paperwork indicating that officials did carefully study Alba ad Astra as soon as it was published .

Chancelot Mill, Western Harbour, Leith Docks, Edinburgh: the second- largest flour mill in Europe . Alleged by some sources to have originally been a clandestine vehicle assembly building . “Aye, it’s a mill the now, right enough,” say local residents . “But back in the day, we was kept up half the night when they moved whatever they put thegither inside the place to they massive transporter ships that only docked after dark .”

Madeleine Shepherd and Shoreline of Infinity are grateful for the support from Transreal Fiction Bookshop.