Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Q&A with the Australian Space Policy Unit

I was interested in finding out a little more about what is happening with the Australian Space Policy Development, and the Space Policy Unit in General, and the nice folks at the Space Policy Unit were kind enough to answer a few of my questions - and also to let me share their answers with you all!

For anyone interested in learning more about the Australian Space Policy Unit, head over to their website here.

Thanks again SPU.

Space Boomerang: Can you provide an update on how the National Space Policy Development is going?

Space Policy Unit: The Space Policy Unit has responsibility for development [of] the policy and work is currently continuing.
 The National Space Policy will:
  • provide a vision for Australia’s use of space and in so doing support and enhance its national priorities including economic, environmental, social, defence and national security goals
  • coordinate space activities within Australia, especially those carried out by or within government
  • enhance industry capabilities
  • ensure Australia meets its future research, education, and innovation potential
  • enhance Australia’s international space relationships for mutual benefit and
  • ensure Australia contributes to the global development of the peaceful use of space.
In developing an evidence base for the policy, the Unit engaged experts to assist in the identification of Australia’s domestic space capabilities and strategic priorities and review the International Space Landscape. The outcomes of these studies all supported the direction that Australia’s space policy focus should be in the areas of Earth observation, satellite communications and position, navigation and timing applications.

To ensure a whole of government perspective, the Australian Government Space Forum (AGSF) is involved in the development of the policy. Key government agencies with an interest in space issues are members of the forum, such as the Department of Defence, Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. A full list of members is available at

Space Boomerang: How do you see the recent release of the Decadal Plan for Australian Space Science influencing the space policy?

Space Policy Unit: The Australian Government is pleased that the space community came together to develop its own research priorities and to identify to the Government investment opportunities and rationales within the space sector. The resulting Decadal Plan will be taken into consideration in the development of the National Space Policy.

Space Boomerang: When can we expect to see the release of the National Space Policy?

Space Policy Unit: The Australian Government will make an announcement in 2011.

Space Boomerang: Will the Space Policy cover defence activities, and if so, do you anticipate a common approach to both civilian and defence space activities in Australia?

Space Policy Unit: The National Space Policy will articulate Australia’s role in protecting the space environment. Though we don’t have an indigenous space based capability, our role in looking after the environment for the future should not be diminished. The policy will influence and support an international rules-based approach to the use of space. It will talk about space situational awareness, including space debris, and our role internationally on this.

The nature of these activities means they cover both civil and defence areas. The Unit will work with Defence to ensure the civil space matters covered in the policy as consistent with defence priorities.

Space Boomerang: Will the Space Policy discuss the creation of an Australian Space Agency or equivalent, or potential steps in that direction?

Space Policy Unit: This will be a consideration of the policy. The Space Policy Unit is the central point of contact and coordination for the Australian Government's civil space activities.

Space Boomerang: Will there be a relationship between the Space Policy and the current NBNCo procurement of two Ka band communications satellites in any way?

Space Policy Unit: The procurement of the proposed Ka band communication satellites is the responsibility of the NBNCo.

Space Boomerang: Given the Australian Space Research Program funding will run out in around 2012/2013, will the Space Policy examine funding issues beyond this date?

Space Policy Unit: The policy will support innovation, science and skills development just as the Australian Space Research Program currently does. The policy will consider funding options for these activities.

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