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Space policy launched by Federal Government

The Federal Government has released Australia's first ever space policy -- the Satellite Utilisation Policy.

It provides certainty and strategic direction for Australian users of satellite technology. Launching the policy at ANU's Stromlo Observatory, Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation Senator Kate Lundy said on-going, cost effective access to satellite capabilities was essential to Australia's future. "Australians, whether they know it or not, rely on satellites every day," Senator Lundy said. "Whether it's for navigation, getting accurate weather forecasts, or communication in remote areas, Australians have a growing appetite for satellite services. "This space policy will ensure that Australians can continue to access the satellite capacity we need through partnerships with other countries and commercial suppliers." Senator Lundy said the policy is not only important for end-users, but will also pay economic dividends for Australia. Satellite imagery alone was estimated in a 2010 report to contribute about $3.3 billion per year to GDP. Positioning technologies, such as GPS, were estimated in 2008 to have added $1 billion per year to GDP, and this is forecast to grow to between $6 and $12 billion by 2030. "The most effective contributions Australia can make to the space industry are those that leverage off our areas of niche expertise," Senator Lundy said. "That is why this policy focuses on supporting space-related research, education and innovation activities to nurture and grow our space industry." Senator Lundy announced that from July 1, a new Space Coordination Office in the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education would be responsible for coordinating Australia's domestic civilian space activitie. Key aspects of Australia's Satellite Utilisation Policy include:

  • Giving priority to earth observations from space; satellite communications; and position, navigation and timing.
  • Contributing to international 'rules of the road' for space through Australian space situational awareness infrastructure and diplomatic efforts.
  • Building and retaining high quality Australian space expertise.
  • Developing a plan to meet projected growth in Australia's satellite information needs by modernising and consolidating Australia's ground infrastructure.
  • Trialling hypersonic combustion ramjets -- scramjets -- capable of travelling at 8600 km per hour.
  • Automated tracking of space debris to prevent damaging collisions between satellites and man-made junk in orbit.
  • Australia's first two-year Masters' program in satellite systems engineering.
  • The development of Antarctic broadband, to provide broadband data and voice communications systems for the frozen continent.

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