Monday, March 12, 2007

Australia's space policy to 2025

Last week I attended a workshop convened by the Kokoda Foundation, a think-tank devoted to security issues, about where Australia was headed in space. As you know we're a bit behind the door when it comes to a coherent vision for our use of space, let alone anything crazy like, oh I don't know, a decent policy ..... some interesting things emerged from the discussions, summarised below:

1. Launch capability is definitely not the way to go. We can't really compete in that market.

2. Spectrum allocation is absolutely critical.

3. Australia is underrepresented on peak bodies at an international level. For example, even though we are a founding member of COPUOS, the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, no Australian rep has attended for so long that they are thinking of chucking us off.

4. People don't talk to each other enough: right hands and left hands don't know what the other is doing (civil and military being some of the hands).

My contribution was to suggest that we need to keep some hardware in orbit; future access to orbit may depend on being able to prove a historical right to be in space after the UN treaties erode. And they will erode, and it is not inconceivable that the space powers would turn around and say, well, it's clear you've never used this orbit in the past, so why should we let you into it now? (A situation not dissimilar to some Native Title debates).

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