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ASTRA is a collaboration of over 130 companies, academic institutions, professional societies, trade associations, and foundations. ASTRA’s mission is to ensure that there is an adequate, and growing, investment by the Federal government in basic research in the physical sciences, the mathematical and computational sciences, and engineering. To accomplish this goal, ASTRA has developed facts-based advocacy and research programs and publications to educate and inform the general public about the relationship between R&D investments and resulting benefits to the U.S.

ASTRA is a tax-exempt IRC 501(c)(3) educational research organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Mary Good
Dr. Mary Good

ASTRA was founded in 2000 by a group of individuals who recognized that there was a fundamental imbalance in the Federal science investment portfolio. These people, and their respective organizations, banded together to redirect the agenda and reinvigorate support for basic research in the key areas identified above. ASTRA’s success in its mission is reflected in the overall growth of science funding, and in the recognition of the importance of science, technology, and innovation as part of the national policy agenda.

ASTRA’s issues, while rooted in science funding, by their nature also extend to America’s economic competitiveness, our support for the creation of a strong innovation ecosystem, the need to enhance national security through improved technology, and laying the foundations for America’s 21st Century workforce. These concerns have been further reflected in publications such as The World is Flat and the seminal Rising Above the Gathering Storm report issued by the National Academies of Science’s Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy (COSEPUP).

The "Friends of ASTRA" worldwide now number close to 45,000 scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, professors, students, technologists, and others. ASTRA maintains its community of organizations and individuals through two key Web Sites: www.usinnovation.org and www.aboutastra.org.

ASTRA’s research and advocacy activities have led to the creation of additional entities to address the need for information that creates a better understanding of the critical role of our science investment. In 2004, ASTRA’s Media Task Force was renamed the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation. ASTRA created the Coalition for NIST Funding in 2003. ASTRA actively supports activities like the annual Congressional Visits Day program hosted by the Science, Engineering and Technology Working Group (SETWG) for which ASTRA’s Executive Director serves as co-Chairman. ASTRA routinely conducts many educational programs in collaboration with other organizations and think tanks.

We estimate that more than 1 million individuals read our State R&D Reports and State STEM Ed Report Cards, both annual series. During 2008 – 2010, ASTRA Action Alerts resulted in over 120,000 contacts with members of Congress and their staffs on matters concerning research funding and innovation policy.

ASTRA is acknowledged as one of the primary organizations behind efforts such as the:

  • 2002 initiative to double funding for the National Science Foundation
  • 2002 Pan Organizational Summit and the National Innovation Initiative
  • America COMPETES Act of 2007 and current efforts at reauthorization of "COMPETES", and
  • Technology Innovation Program (TIP) at NIST.

ASTRA’s Riding the Rising Tide: a 14-Point Policy Framework report was issued in 2008. It is now reflected in much of the current Administration’s Innovation Agenda. ASTRA provides policy research and messaging ideas for many other organizations. They use ASTRA information for their own customized advocacy, Congressional testimony, and educational outreach activities.

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