Australia: recent developments in space situational awareness

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


ECU Security Research Institute




Biddington, B. (2012). Australia: recent developments in space situational awareness. In Proceedings of 63rd (IAC) International Astronautical Congress (pp.1-4). Paris, France: The International Astronautical Federation. Available here


Since the end of World War II Australian space activity has been confined largely to providing land to support the space ambitions and activities of its major allies. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Woomera test range supported the ambitions of the United Kingdom to develop nuclear weapons and an intercontinental ballistic missile. From the 1960s, Australia has hosted a range of ground stations which support classified space activities conducted by the United States as well as unclassified programs conducted by NASA, ESA and others. More recently Australia has recognised that Space Situational Awareness (SSA) capabilities are essential to the regulation of the space environment, which is so easily harmed and so hard to repair, in the interests of all of humanity. This paper describes recent developments with respect to SSA in Australia, both in the military and civil domains and places this within a broader context of policy development and international cooperation. The paper discusses the importance, from the perspective of SSA, of Australia’s geo-strategic position in the world. Located in the southern hemisphere and also proximate to Asia and the Indian sub -continent, Australia has a unique vantage point from which to monitor space objects which will be a vital factor for peace and stability in the Indo- Pacific Century.

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