ECU Security Research Institute / School of Science
Australia is one of the world's most wealthy nations. Yet to the surprise and puzzlement of many observers, Australian governments over many years steadfastly refused to become involved in space activities in ways judged to be commensurate to the nation's wealth and place in the world. Repeated calls to establish a space agency were ignored or firmly rejected and civil and commercial investment in space activities was limited. In the past decade, there have been substantial developments and new investments in the policy, national security, civil and commercial domains. Perhaps the salient feature is the establishment of the Australian Space Agency in 2018. This article is a description and critical analysis of these developments. There are two key drivers to Australia's approach to space. The first is Australia's strategic geography, its location on Earth, its large size and small population most of whom live in a few large coastal cities. The second is national security, typically expressed though the nation's alliance relationships. These have been policy constants since the late 1940s and remain so today. This article demonstrates that recent developments, including the establishment of the space agency, are best understood as opportunistic outcomes and serendipitous results of a series of events several of which had little to do with space per se. Heralded by some as a new beginning, a closer analysis confirms the continuing importance of geography and national security as the two key drivers of Australia's approach to space.
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