Sunday, July 23, 2006

Why is Australia so uninterested in space?

What an interesting conference ..... especially for me as an outsider. A lot of these space people have known each other for years. (This is the Australian Space Development Conference).

My paper was not that well attended but I did manage to get Roy Sach, chair of the Space Policy Advisory Group, Andrew Parfitt from the University of Adelaide, Gordon Pike of Singtel-Optus, Brian Hatfield from BAE Systems, and Alex Held from CSIRO in the audience. Actually I had always supposed that Andrew Parfitt didn't like me, so it was nice that he made the effort to come.

I also met Ben Greene from EOS. I've long been interested in their orbital debris tracking operations and had been thinking about possible collaborative efforts. Unfortunately Dr Greene couldn't have been less interested. I suppose international CEOs can't afford to devote much time to chatting with individual researchers of my standing.

Roger Franzen, Managing Director of Auspace, was completely the opposite.

And of course the gloomy underlying theme of the conference was Australia's lack of commitment to space, the fact that we are rapidly falling behind in almost everything, and that we are completely dependent on others, particularly the US, to maintain space services. The advice of the lovely John Keating, CEO of Comm Dev (Canada) in his keynote speech, was "lose the US".

Monday, July 17, 2006

Australian Space Development Conference

Tomorrow I leave for chilly Canberra and the Australian Space Development Conference. Today I must finish writing my paper. I am presenting as part of a heritage panel and my brief is to outline Indigenous heritage issues in space exploration. I'm taking three case studies: Woomera, Aussat A, and Tranquility Base.

It will, I am sure, be a seriously suited audience - if any of the space nobs think it worth attending a heritage session. To enhance my credibility I'm going to wear high heels. (Does it work that way? I've really no idea).

Ironically I was out near Woomera on the weekend doing fieldwork with the Kokatha. Very interesting conversation with Eileen Wingfield about Maralinga. But this time I'm not drawing nuclear testing into my arguments. I think some of the basic heritage concepts will be enough for a space industry audience to begin with.