Australia signs space treaty with US ahead of launching national space agency

The Australian government has announced signing a Space Tracking Treaty with the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Acting Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Michaelia Cash said the treaty “remains the foundation for a continued cooperative program between Australia and the United States” as the nation awaits the launch of a dedicated space agency.

She added that Australia plays an important role in NASA’s exploration of space, having assisted in “almost all of NASA’s human and robotic missions to space”.

“Our space collaboration with the United States of America began in 1957 with the establishment of a radio tracking facility in Woomera and was formalised in 1960 with the signing of a bilateral treaty on space vehicle tracking,” Cash said in a statement.

NASA owns a number of civil space facilities in Australia such as the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla, as well as facilities in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The facilities are all covered in the Space Tracking Treaty.

“For more than 50 years, CSIRO has been proud to be one of NASA’s homes in the Southern Hemisphere, leveraging our geography and sharing in the world-class capabilities of our scientists,” CSIRO CEO Larry Marshall said in a statement, praising the signing of the treaty and the knowledge-sharing opportunities that will arise as a result.

“From humanity’s first steps on the moon, to flying past Pluto, to Cassini’s recent descent into Saturn, CSIRO and NASA have partnered to not only see more deeply into our Universe, but inspire the next generation of scientists.”

In July, the Australian government launched a review into the nation’s space industry with the goal of developing a 10-year plan to grow the sector and boost its global competitiveness.

The review was launched to examine Australia’s current capability and areas of advantage, as well as the…

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