Space is no longer the sole preserve of the national security community. Australia is dependent on foreign owned and operated satellites for basic services such as timing and navigation, communications and remote sensing. However, Australia has very little influence in the bodies that govern and regulate the peaceful use of space-based utilities. Any disruption or denial of these services will have a negative impact not only on national security but also on the economic and social well-being of the nation.
Australia has been spared the substantial costs associated with investing in the development and sustainment of national space capabilities. These investments were met largely through alliance relationships, in particular with the United States. Australia gained significant strategic and operational benefit from space-based utilities by permitting ground stations to be based on its soil. This situation is no longer sufficient.
New technologies have reduced the traditional barriers to operating satellites. An increasing number of nations and commercial bodies are developing space-based capabilities. In turn, as the competition intensifies, so the risk weapons being deployed into space also grows. In order to participate as a middle level power in the emerging debates about space security, many of which have global implications, Australia must put ‘skin in the game’ to ensure it has a confident, credible and respected voice. This report outlines a modest investment program that will allow Australia to protect and advance its national interests in space into the future.