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Australia has just released their new 'Satellite Utilisation Policy' – or in common-speak, their new 'Space Policy'. Why is it called this, and should New Zealand be adopting a similar strategy for its own?

The policy is guided by and builds detail into seven principles that were released last year: 

  1. Focus on space applications of national significance

  2. Assure access to space capability

  3. Strengthen and increase international cooperation

  4. Contribute to a stable space environment

  5. Improve domestic coordination

  6. Support innovation, science and skills development

  7. Enhance and protect national security and economic wellbeing

There's a lot of debate from the space enthusiast community in Australia – that they've pandered to politicians and were scared of calling it a true 'Australian Space Policy.' Personally, I understand this - 'Space' policy sounds expensive in the public mindset, but almost everyone would agree that we should invest in using satellites. You'll note that there is no "Space Agency" mentioned in the document, and no "Australian Astronauts" planned – this is very squarely set on economic benefits, and future industry niches that can be developed.

There's a lot of detail I haven't found yet – like what money will be flowing to support the policy. Over the past 3-4 years there was an 'Australian Space Research Program' created, allocating $40 million towards various academic, education and industry development activities. I saw an update late last year, and while many of the attendees yawned at the presentation (for good reason, based on some of the presenters' styles) - the update for me was quite refreshing. And I did like the stocktake made by Dr Andrew Parfitt – it showed how a number of international collaborations have been established, programmes advanced, university programmes seeded, etc. Good value, for a relatively small investment in my opinion. But that money is about to run out – and the big question is what will happen next. 

It looks like Australia's Space Policy Unit will continue, so there must be some funding allocated (or at least partitioned within the parent organisation).

So have a read of the policy and let me know what you think.

  • Did they go in the right direction?
  • Human spaceflight is off the agenda - should it be?
  • And importantly, do you think this could be a good blueprint for the New Zealand government to follow?

/Mark Mackay

 

DownloadAustralia's Satellite Utilisation Policy (April 2013).pdf
(Mirrored from: http://www.space.gov.au/Documents/Australias-satellite-utilisation-policy.pdf)

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