During a meeting between Australian and United States Government Officials in Washington DC on the 26th and 27th of October, Australia and the United Sates signed a joint "Statement on Bilateral Cooperation in the Civil Use of GPS and Civil Space Activities", reinforcing and expanding previous agreements.
Within the meeting, officials reviewed the progress achieved so far on the "Joint Delegation Statement on Cooperation in the Civil Use of GPS and Space-Based Positioning Navigation and Timing (PNT) Systems and Applications" signed in April 2007.
According to the announcement: "The first day's discussion covered the broad and growing use of the U.S. Global Positioning system (GPS) and its augmentations in the air transport field, the installation of ground monitoring stations that will improve performance of current and emerging Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and applications for GPS including national spatial reference systems, weather forecasting, climate observation, space weather, and important economic uses of GPS time. The second day's discussion focused on U.S. and Australian space policy developments, long term sustainability of space activities and bilateral space science cooperation."
The announcement goes on to say "The framework will encompass collaboration on important space applications such as satellite-based land and sea remote sensing, climate change research and meteorology, and space-based PNT, as well as opportunities for early discussions on new systems and future civil space-related missions under development." which is very much in line with the Australian Space Policy Unit's current interests.
“Civil space infrastructure is critical to all Australians. Every day, we use civil space systems for applications ranging from GPS navigation, to land and sea remote sensing. This agreement formalises Australia’s continued access,” said Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr (or Minister for Space as I like to call him).
The US and Australia will review cooperative civil space related activities between the countries anually, and engage in perioudic consultation to pursue the goals of the proposed core framework.
The statement can be found here, with the Media Release found here.
This is the second major space announcement within a few days between Australia and the United States, one military, one civilian. It is a strong sign of the current US administration's goal to engage with more international partners in Space, and such tight cooperation is likely to have a large influence on the Australian Space Policy under development.