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Space Transportation

An Australian Space Agency At Last? 189

Posted by samzenpus
from the up-and-down-under dept.
Dante_J writes "In the Australian Federal budget presented last night, as well as big national infrastructure spending, an amount of $48.6 million over four years was allocated for an 'Australian Space Science Program.' Normally a space program is managed by a space agency. Does this now mean that Australia will follow the recommendations of the Senate Space Science report and give up its rather inadequate title of the only top-20 GDP nation not to have one? With nations like Vietnam, Bangladesh and Bulgaria forming or maintaining space agencies, this government infrastructure is obviously not limited to G-20 nations. Discussions to combine Australian and New Zealand airspace have been undertaken; should that translate to aerospace too, and both nations form an ANZAC space agency together?"
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An Australian Space Agency At Last?

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  • Re:g'day mate (Score:5, Interesting)

    by InfiniteLoopCounter (1355173) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @01:11AM (#27947823)

    Well drag me to hell...what does an island nation, sitting well below the equator, need with a space program anyhow.

    Because future technology may come out of space science and astrophysics. Things like GPS and satellite communications are already here now. But to really benefit from advancements, you have to be properly in it.

    And then there's the 'prestige' of not having to send people overseas. It's a good thing that space science is getting funded in Australia along side other scientific disciplines and hospitals.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 14, 2009 @01:12AM (#27947825)

    Australia is heavily involved in a number of satellite remote sensing initiatives. There is currently a push on to get international coordination on satellite sensor specs. I think this is about getting Australia a seat at that table.

  • As an Australian... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 14, 2009 @01:52AM (#27947993)

    As an Australian, my stance on this is the opposite to my usual stance on the subject of collaboration with New Zealand; I would support this, where for other projects I usually wouldn't, because having both countries involved will make it significantly more difficult for either government (and especially the Australian government) to keep details secret or integrate it into the military. I would love for it to start as, and stay, a strictly civilian organization.

    I can understand the historical reasons for the early space programs being military in nature; but in modern times there is no excuse; in fact, it's saber-rattling to create such an institution under such a structure.

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday May 14, 2009 @01:55AM (#27948005) Homepage Journal

    riiiight. Cause outsourcing our satellite imaging to the americans is just so much more peaceful than doing it ourselves.

     

  • ANZSA (Score:4, Interesting)

    by POds (241854) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @02:05AM (#27948041) Homepage Journal

    The Australian New Zealand Army Corp Space Agency?

    I'd prefer ANZSA - sounds like answer (in an aussie ascent)

    You ask it, they find it!

  • Re:Not enough (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kramulous (977841) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @04:38AM (#27948659)

    Given that you're a UQ follower, I would have thought you'd be for giving the cash to the scramjet (Hypersonics) lab. Those guys can make little money go a very long way [spacenewsfeed.co.uk]. It would certainly be deserved.

    Such a shame the original dude had a stroke. His understudy shows promise though.

  • Re:ASP (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SlashWombat (1227578) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @05:41AM (#27948905)
    Apparently, Australia was the third (fifth?) country in the world to successfully launch a satellite into orbit. While this is hard to believe, apparently the launch vehicle for wresat was donated by the USA. However, it only took about 1 year to achieve this feat.

    Now, can we actually achieve less, but have the remains fall on Canberra's parliament during a full sitting ... that would do us all a favour! (As like all politicians around the world, Aussie politicians really do have their collective snouts in the public trough. If if looks like a pig, smells like a pig, and snorts like a pig, it must be a politician pig)
  • Yesssss... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by benjfowler (239527) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @05:43AM (#27948919)

    I've never understood the bipartisan bad attitude towards investing in science and technology in Australia.

    Any funding of science and technology tends to be political in nature; take a look at some of the CRCs, which tend to either be politicians' pet projects, or freebies for somebody's support base. The CSIRO (the Australian equivalent of the Max Planck Institute or NSF, and one of the biggest of its kind on Earth), is really a huge giveaway to the primary and extractive industries.

    I think it's because Australian leaders don't understand the importance of science and technology. I also think it boils down to the traditional Australian distrust of all that is too 'clever'; we'd rather stick to growing things and digging shit out of the ground rather than value-add.

    The potential benefits of a military space program are obvious. When you realise that it takes six hours to cross Australian airspace by plane, you realize that that's a lot of ground to cover. Why there aren't half a dozen Australian-owned military birds already flying is a minor miracle of short-sightedness and stupidity. And it's extremely naive for Australian defence planners to always assume that the US won't screw us over when we need them the most.

    And a civil space programme would do wonders for building sorely-needed industrial capability, and interest in science and technology. It doesn't even have to be expensive: do what the Canadians do, pick a niche, and get really, really good at it. For instance, advanced life support systems, or something like that... we don't HAVE to have our own launch vehicles.

    I'm not holding my breath though.

  • by oliderid (710055) on Thursday May 14, 2009 @07:58AM (#27949513) Journal

    Well I'm no Australian but considering the size of your population I seriously doubt promoting mostly national projects would help your scientists and the overall return on investment.

    If all these European countries (having roughly a population similar to yours) have founded the ESA, this is precisely to share costs and having bigger projects. (see for example the special relationship between Canada and ESA) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ESA [wikipedia.org] Why not Australia as well?

  • by Maelwryth (982896) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @07:36AM (#27977859)
    "Notice how he had to leave New Zealand to accomplish that."
    More telling would have been saying how he never came back. :)

    New Zealand is a very small, very young, country. Many of our best and brightest go overseas. Possibly the experience is part of what makes them our best and brightest. Furthermore, getting funding for large projects just isn't going to happen in a country of just over four million people. I think you would find that we aren't so unhappy that we lost them, we're just happy that they achieved an important role in the world.

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