Australia Looks at Orbital Tracking from Down Under

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Australia and the United States are exploring the potential to collaborate on space situational awareness, an Australian official said Nov. 3.

The United States has a very limited ability to track satellites and other objects in space as they pass over the Southern Hemisphere, and Australia is uniquely positioned geographically to host sensors for this purpose, Air Commodore David Steele, air attaché for the Embassy of Australia, said at the Strategic Space Symposium.

Australia recently released a strategic defense white paper outlining the nation’s priorities for national defense. The document placed a heavy emphasis on the need for space capabilities, which will require continued partnership with other nations as well as growth of an indigenous space industry, Steele said.

One potential avenue the government is considering is development of a synthetic aperture radar satellite, though no such program has been funded. The Australian government also recently created a space policy unit to develop the nation’s first space strategy document, which should be published in mid-2010, Steele said.