Australia and space

Author/s (editor/s):

Desmond Ball, Gordon Bilney, David Cartwright, Phillip Clark, Keith Cole, Graham Harris, William Hope, Matthew James, Robert jeal, Bruce Middleton, Danny O'Neill, John Pike, Jeffrey Richelson, Theodore Stapinski, Paul Stares, Helen Wilson

Publication year:


Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 94

Australia has been extensively involved in space activities of one sort or another since the 1950s. In many cases projects undertaken in Australia and Australian products have been at the very forefront of international developments. But the Australian activity has always been uneven and fitful. Opportunities have been lost and investments wasted. We have lacked a national pace policy capable of providing coherence and direction.

Australia cannot afford this state of affairs. The costs of short-term planning and of sectional perspectives and programs are too great. Space support for the Australian Defence Force will require significant investment - initially for communications and signals intelligence purposes and after, perhaps, for surveillance. These defence programs should be coordinated closely with Australia's civil space capabilities and interests - to ensure that there is no unnecessary duplication and that civil resources are used whenever practicable; and that the defence investment contributes, wherever possible, to national development. A viable space industry and infrastructure is itself a major defence asset.

The commercial opportunities of space will increase significantly the next couple of decades, and it is critical that Australian industry technology share in this growth - with due consideration to national as well as commercial interests.

here are many complex and controversial issues involved in the development of a national space policy designed to provide coherence and direction to Australia's space activities. The investments required are sometimes enormous. Are the relevant government authorities and private industry adequately equipped to make the most - from the national perspective - out of their programs? Have Australia's space defence and intelligence requirements been adequately defined, and how might they best be satisfied? What are the environmental implications of major Australian space projects? How might space-based sensors contribute to monitoring environmental developments? What machinery might be instituted for coordinating and supporting Australia's various space-related activities?

These issues can only be resolved through a process of informed national debate. In November 1991 the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University held a major conference to foster this debate. This volume consists of the revised and edited versions of the papers prepared for the conference.

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