Australia in Orbit: Space Policy and Programs

Current Issues Brief 12 1997-98

Matthew James, Technology Adviser
Science, Technology, Environment and Resources Group
6 April 1998


Major Issues Summary


Australian Satellite Programs

Commercial Satellite Launch Projects

  • Launch Regulation

Space Industry Policy

Life in Space

Space Futures

  • Space Exploitation and Application



  • International Space Agreements and United Nations General Assembly Resolutions

    Beijing Declaration on Space Technology Applications for Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific


Major Issues Summary

Space programs provide an important variety of services to Australia. However, they require a degree of independent capability to best serve a population with limited technological resources. The diffusion of knowledge and innovation across industry and society is an important aspect of space capability and is a potential catalyst for creating new and valuable spin-off technologies. These include bio-engineering, robotics, optics, materials, software, electronics, power cells, ground control systems, data processing and advanced manufacturing technologies. Project management, space education and training follow as important support structures. The development of commercially viable spacecraft launchers is a growing activity, as is the growth of collaborative international space ventures, both public and private. There are three main applications of space technology, namely, remote sensing of Earth, communications systems, and scientific exploration.

Remote sensing studies the atmosphere, oceans, ice and land and how they interact. This helps Australians to better understand the changing environment over a diverse continent and the surrounding seas. The work also assists our space industry to gain the best possible position in international markets for satellite systems, ground support stations and data services. Remote sensing satellites provide images of the Earth in optical, infrared, radar and other types of electromagnetic spectrum channels. However, the unique properties of the Australian landmass require special observing techniques and processing for success. Scientists use satellite data in a myriad of ways, from monitoring vegetation cycles, studying earthquake deformations, forecasting the weather and climate modelling, through to mineral prospecting, fishing stock mapping, urban planning and nature conservation.

Satellite communications and multimedia now link with navigation systems enabling global services for mobile terminals and applications such as aircraft contact, shipping logistics, tele-medicine, Internet use and tele-education. Broadcasting satellites provide direct regional television and radio and specialised local services. Telecommunications satellites offer flexible, high-capacity routes for voice and data services, providing backup in the event of undersea cable failure. Defence satellite communications and monitoring provide the basis for intelligence, treaty observance and military deployments. Given the rate of change in the information revolution, space systems will play a major future role.

Lastly, together with Earth-based astronomy, space science helps us to better understand the solar system, our galaxy, the Universe and ourselves. Special scientific instruments on spacecraft collect and interpret data on radiation levels, forces, magnetism and the electromagnetic spectrum of emissions. Bursts in the solar wind can disrupt power transmissions on Earth and also damage satellites. Investigation of the role of gravity in the evolution of plants can also lead to understanding in the causes of demineralisation of human bones and muscle atrophy. The pharmaceutical industry has interest in the growing of high quality protein crystals in space, while the study of influenza viruses in low gravity helps our understanding of Earth based biological processes. The study of space debris and the space environment and its hazards is now emerging, but the excitement of planetary exploration remains the greatest of human adventures.

Space activities are important to Australia in both monetary and utility terms. Australia already spends over $500 million annually on satellite systems but mostly overseas and with no guarantee that local industry will derive benefit and involvement in such programs. The nation has long purchased Intelsat and Inmarsat satellite system access, but our industry has not participated in their spacecraft or component assembly contracts. Other nations provide us with meteorological and remote sensing imagery and navigational satellite services, but with no certainties over continuation of service or the future costs.

Nonetheless, recent initiatives may provide some salvation through the development and launch of small-satellite payload demonstration projects. The FedSat program will focus on design and construction of such a multi-purpose spacecraft in time for the Centenary of Federation, before leading on to more ambitious missions. The private ARIES program aims to capitalise on local expertise in imaging systems through development of a small commercial remote sensing satellite. The ASRI amateur group also plans a small satellite.

Meanwhile, a number of private commercial satellite launch vehicle proponents view the Australian landmass as offering stable potential for cost-effective rocket operations. They all involve use of derivative overseas rocket systems launched from sites as diverse as Woomera, Darwin, Gladstone, Cape York or Christmas Island. However, their feasibility relies on the world market for communications and imaging satellite systems, a market that international competitors are also keen to secure. While Australia moves to facilitate launch operations, maybe just one will succeed, given some vision and support.

Current government administrative arrangements for space have now split into a practical development program (FedSat) under CSIRO, with broader policy matters still retained within DIST. As a legacy of past myopia and minuscule budgets, only now is the bureaucracy reaching a degree of familiarity with space systems and international legal requirements. Space policy has probably had more reviews than any other area in the portfolio, but finally there is now a move towards defining specific space industry policy.

There remains a strong popular interest in astronomy and space exploration, though at a basic level of understanding. Fascination with the search for life in space, on Mars and nearby stars has not extended to public support for practical Australian space programs. Critics of space exploration view it as exploitation on a grand scale. If appropriate space policy is to survive, it must address Earth's issues and proper socioeconomic goals for us.


Why bother about space? After all it's above our heads, or is it? Australia might use global communications satellite systems, remotely sensed imagery, space-based meteorological forecasting and navigation satellite guidance, but to what extent should it work towards an independence from paying for access to them all? We may have a fine heritage of space science and astronomy participation as a small player, so why change current plans? What possible gain can we make from better understanding the mysteries of the universe?

Australia has had a history of sidelining space program decisions and space issues. Australia has not gained a fair share of space industry input into development of the international Intelsat and Inmarsat communications consortia's satellite systems that we pay to use. Our access to American Landsat, Radarsat and French Spot remote sensing satellite systems has no guarantee of continuing at low cost unless we achieve independent ability. Similar considerations apply to overseas meteorological and navigation satellite systems that Australia uses. Likewise, instead of investigating the threat from rogue asteroids, we acted to close down the only search in the Southern Hemisphere.

Yet Australia has had a long and very significant history of involvement with world space programs(1)'(2)'(3). These have often had a military basis concerning mostly American and British agencies. Australia's inability to build on these activities has been costly, resulting in missed opportunities such as building successors to our initial satellite Wresat1. It made us the fourth nation into orbit in 1967. Instead, we have maintained spacecraft tracking stations for the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA), operated astronomical observatories and participated in some space programs through supporting research and payload provision.

Australia's dependence on natural resources and agriculture spread over a vast land mass necessarily involves efficient use of space applications such as remote sensing, navigation, communications and science. A wide range of government, university and private organisations apply satellite remote sensing data to environmental studies, mapping and resource management uses. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Australian Centre for Remote Sensing (ACRES) and the Bureau of Meteorology have long had significant remote sensing interests. Meteorological satellites provide essential information on weather systems, sea surface temperatures and ocean currents, particularly over areas that are relatively inaccessible. The Bureau operates meteorological satellite receiving stations in Melbourne, Perth, Darwin and Antarctica.

Telstra Corporation and Optus Communications handle most satellite communications made through Intelsat or Inmarsat. The Optus satellite system, formerly Aussat, provides significant domestic linkages and broadcasting capabilities across the continent. Ground stations operate in each capital city with major gateways located in Perth and Sydney. The local network of the United States Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite ground stations has 14 sites to ensue system integrity, monitoring, science and mapping. Satellites provide a means of determining location anywhere in the world with the GPS allowing ships, aircraft and mobile vehicles to track their locations with great accuracy. As well, some satellites convey emergency signals to enable search and rescue operations.

One of three major worldwide NASA tracking stations for interplanetary probes, the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex at Tidbinbilla employs 150 British Aerospace Australia staff. This facility sometimes links to the Parkes radiotelescope and the Australia Telescope National Facility (ATNF) used for radio astronomy. Mount Stromlo and the Anglo-Australian Observatory (AAO) are major optical astronomy facilities. Other ground stations serve the United States military satellite systems, such as the early warning facility at Nurrungar near Woomera, the signals intelligence station at Pine Gap near Alice Springs and Australia's own defence satellite communications station located near Geraldton. The Woomera range handles infrequent test launch programs.

Uncertain liability has been a barrier to the commercial launch services industry here. Current insurance premiums for launchers range, from less than 1 per cent of value for pre-launch activities, to 10 to 32 per cent for launch and orbit, and 1.5 to 4 per cent for in-orbit operations. The worldwide space risk insurance capacity in 1997 reached $1400 million. Note that since 1957 there has been $7.7 billion in premiums and $6.9 billion paid out by insurers. In 1997, Australian companies earned $100 million in space insurance premium incomes from overseas business. The market capacity for insurance appears adequate but with pressure on premium rates and uncertain business from Asian satellite launchers.

There remains an overall lack of space industry project management and so the sector has a niche basis. The many proposed but failed satellite and launch vehicle ventures are testament to limited support here. Instead we have made large overseas expenditures on Aussat satellite procurement and Intelsat and Inmarsat access. Many reviews, committees and studies have only led to low funding and a continuing lack of an official national space policy. Other nations have found difficulty in dealing with us on space sector issues. Access and cost in relation to remote sensing data have become significant international issues as nations act to realise the economic value of their space commercial services.

This paper outlines current national space activities and administrative arrangements. The paper also examines the competing international commercial satellite launch ventures. It covers the evolution of a space industry policy for Australia and suggests some future options. The discussion also covers the search for life in space, an endeavour that provides a philosophical rationale for initiatives in national space policy and programs. The paper finally considers matters of space exploration and exploitation and any benefits for society.

Australian Satellite Programs

In 1996, the then Minister for Science and Technology, the Hon. Peter McGauran considered a draft proposal for a new national space agency. The proposal was rather weak and did not appear to be well directed, so consequently it became necessary to draft a fresh approach. Given that funding was scarce, it appeared that salvation lay with an initiative linked to the Centenary of Federation in 2001 as a vision for the future. It was also necessary to build on national research experience and industry capabilities with a suitable but small demonstration project; i.e. Federation Satellite 1 (FedSat). In the 20 August 1996 Budget Statement, the Minister announced the start of the FedSat program and changed the prevailing administrative arrangements for space.

News followed later of Commonwealth support for building FedSat through a new Cooperative Research Centre for Satellite Systems (CRCSS). On 10 July 1997, Mr McGauran announced an initial program grant of $20 million. A necessary part of the CRCSS context was industry participation and contribution of $36 million over a seven year timeframe. At last Australia had committed itself to a space applications project that would demonstrate national capabilities, to both its own people and markets around the world. Other changes to space programs also occurred, as discussed ahead.

The CSIRO Office of Space Science and Applications (COSSA) undertook development of the program and establishment of the CRCSS in Canberra. With the official start of CRCSS operations on 1 January 1998, the core of COSSA staff transferred to the CRCSS. The CRCSS partners include strong representation from the space industry and the ARIES consortium (see later). The CRCSS has research and development, education and training, engineering and project management functions. The CRCSS is to have a broader role than FedSat, covering the long-term strategic operational and commercial role for satellites.

Small satellites such as FedSat represent the way ahead for space science and technology in an era of tight economics and efficiency. FedSat is to be a small, 50 kg satellite in a 500 to 1000 km orbit at 70 degrees high orbital inclination to the equator. It will have various payloads including a magnetometer experiment, a solar cell for space tests, provision for remote sensing system applications, GPS science, communications and computing systems. FedSat will use a proven space platform, with local tests and possible launch by the Japanese Space Agency NASDA as a piggyback payload, at minimal cost to Australia. Private companies Auspace and Vipac will assemble and test FedSat before its launch in 2001. Other partners in FedSat include the private companies Mitec, D-Space and Optus; the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), and various universities. The main teaching and research laboratories for FedSat development are in Brisbane, at the Space Industry Development Centre for Satellite Navigation at the Queensland University of Technology, and in Adelaide at the Institute for Telecommunications Research at the University of South Australia.

ARIES, the Australian Resource Information and Environment Satellite is a commercial project for worldwide geological exploration and mapping by a remote sensing satellite. The vehicle is to be a small 480 kg satellite in polar orbit used for specialised remote sensing with a two-dimensional image, multiple narrow channel, single instrument. It has much higher image capacity compared to the existing Spot or Landsat systems. With an ability to re-image sites weekly and a three-year life, the craft will use proprietary satellite platform and programs. The ARIES consortium has many members including CSIRO, Auspace and the Australian Centre for Remote Sensing. Other companies involved include Earth Resource Mapping, Geoimage and Technical and Field Surveys. With support from Macquarie Bank and Australian Taxation Office allowances, the consortium completed a $1.2 million feasibility study in 1997 and aims to launch in 2000, possibly before FedSat.

Other private organisations also have an active interest in satellite systems. The volunteer, non-profit Australian Space Research Institute (ASRI) proposes launching a small amateur satellite. ASRI brings together graduate students and space professionals in a series of ongoing projects aimed at developing an indigenous light launch vehicle and small satellite. A Queanbeyan company, Electro Optic Systems, provides laser reflectors for small Russian navigation satellites. Australian company Codan produces satellite communications items. Among overseas corporations active here, United States Rockwell is expanding satellite technology work with an Asia-Pacific headquarters in Sydney.

Australia has gained much experience in feasibility studies, design, and management of space missions as a service provider(4). FedSat may enable development of service supplier abilities as a small step towards more demanding and complex launch projects, with industry capacity as sub or prime contractor, and space applications within a regional context. Australia's share of the remote sensing industry market is about 5 per cent. It has a capacity to grow substantially to over $500 million annually by the year 2000(5). However, the share is widely dispersed among government institutions and the private sector. Renewable resource management and environmental monitoring offer much scope for the industry to grow, as long as high quality data remain available at reasonable access cost. Australian space-related research and development and ARIES could assist in establishing a high technology manufacturing base and contribute to improved resource management.

Government space programs in many Asian nations have enabled regional industry to become suppliers, not just users, of commercial communications satellite systems. In a regional sense, Asian nations are very active in space programs. Japan has developed a technologically successful space program, at relatively small development cost, in accordance with a systematic government plan and budget that links to many industry participants(6). While Japan and China lead in this regard, other countries such as Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore have active small satellite development programs. Remote sensing ground stations operate in a number of regional countries, while several propose small satellite programs, such as in India. Australia has a number of joint space programs with Asian organisations in remote sensing activities and other applications.

Commercial Satellite Launch Projects

The market for launches derives from two principle requirements: development of a new generation of mobile communications satellites in low-Earth orbit and, high capacity satellite systems operating in the higher geostationary Earth orbit. The new mobile communications systems of many small, low-Earth orbit satellites offer the prospect of global telecommunications by handheld telephones, no matter where users call from on Earth(7)'(8). Growth in national, direct-to-home TV broadcasting satellites include new geostationary systems for several Asian nations. By the end of 1997, there were 95 civilian geostationary communications satellites providing services to the region. Of these, some 24 satellites provide Australia with telecommunications or broadcasting type coverage up to the power of the domestic Optus satellite system(9).

While China and Russia remain the only current commercial launch service providers in the region (Japan and India are not far behind), other interests propose rocket flights from Australia. The various recent competing launcher proposals for Australia comprise the Kistler venture, the International Resource Corporation (IRC) Soyuz program, the Space Transportation Systems (STS) plan, or United Launch Systems (ULS) Unity rocket program. Together, they represent possible investment here of $1.85 billion. Figure 1 shows the location of the various proposed space launch sites around Australia. It also depicts the sites of most of the other major active space facilities mentioned previously.

The American Kistler effort involves a new reusable booster to place 3200 kg into low-Earth-orbit. Kistler has a Space Systems/Loral contract for 10 satellite launches from 1998 at over $150 million. Kistler is set to go after tests from either Woomera or Nevada. The Federal Government has approved use of Woomera and is developing launch licences.

An Asia Pacific Space Centre at Weipa or Temple Bay on Cape York, or on Christmas Island, involves an IRC deal with Starsem, a Russian-French company that markets Soyuz rockets, along with Korean interests. Starsem began in 1996 through Arianespace, Aerospatiale of France and Russian agencies to offer Soyuz for commercial missions. Starsem is to launch between 12 and 46 Globalstar mobile satellites for Loral from 1998. On 17 March 1998, the Federal Government announced the Christmas Island plan, while noting the stringent environmental assessment required before approval.

STS with United Communications Public Company Ltd of Thailand, proposed use of Proton vehicles, from Lockheed Martin and the Krunichev State Research and Production Space Centre, as International Launch Services of San Diego. They investigated launching from Melville Island or Gunn Point. With Northern Territory Government approval, STS began environmental assessment, but later decided to study alternative sites. However, on 23 February 1998, STS withdrew from the project after the overseas partners advised that they would not proceed with any Proton launches from Australia, due to costs.

Figure 1. Australian Space Launch Site Proposals and Space Support Facilities.

Launch Sites: IRC-Soyuz: on Cape York Qld or Christmas Island, Kistler-K1: Woomera SA, STS-Proton: Melville Island or Gunn Point NT, and ULS-Unity: off Gladstone Qld.
Adelaide: DSTO, Institute for Telecommunications Research-University of SA, British Aerospace Australia, Codan, Vipac, Woomera (Nurrungar), NT-Pine Gap.
Brisbane: Space Centre Satellite Navigation-University of Queensland., S.C.Microwave Technology-Griffith University, Qld. Univ. of Technology, Geoimage, Mitec.
Canberra: NASA Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex, ADFA, ACRES, CSIRO-COSSA-CRC, ANU, Auspace, Electro-Optics, Departments.
Melbourne: Bureau of Meteorology, KEL Aerospace, LaTrobe Univ., Sigtec.
Sydney: Optus, Telstra, D-Space, Hawker de Havilland, Spot, TFS, Universities.
Perth: Telstra, Optus, ERM, Universities, Geraldton Defence Satellite Station.

Figure 1. Australian Space Launch Site Proposals and Space Support Facilities.

Source: DIST Space Policy Unit (with permission).

ULS, a company linked to STS, intends using the Russian Unity launch vehicle on Hummock Hill Island near Gladstone. However, details remain sketchy at present. Among earlier initiatives, KIT-Comm Pty Ltd, an Australian-owned joint venture between Kennett International Technology Pty Ltd of Queensland and several private investors signed an agreement in 1993 with AeroAstro of the United States for two launches of communications data satellites from a site near Darwin. Also in that year, the EuroPacific Capital Group consortium of Sydney reputedly investigated the viability of a new Cape York launch site. However, the status of both projects and some others remains unclear(10). Russia's Cosmos Group previously planned a Seagull booster to fire 1000 kg to low-Earth orbit from Woomera or Northern Australia. There have been other schemes as well.

It is apparent that some competing launcher projects overseas are closer to fruition(11). The Boeing Commercial Space Company is a joint-venture partner in Sea Launch Ltd, which intends to fire Russian rockets from a large mobile platform near the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati. With its Odyssey platform and support vessel complete, the $925 million venture has over 15 confirmed launch orders from American interests. The first launch, a Hughes PanAmSat communications satellite, is to be in late 1998. Kiribati itself had hoped to develop one of its islands as a spaceport with Japanese interests. The Odyssey could make polar orbital launches from some 1400 km off the West Coast of California. Sea Launch will fire Ukrainian Zenit rockets with Russian third stages to carry 5 tonne payloads into the geostationary orbit. The launch pad was originally an oilrig subsequently modified in Norway and Russia. The command ship was built in Scotland and fitted out in Russia while a homeport is now ready on an old naval station at Long Beach, California.

Launch Regulation

In 1996 the Minister for Industry, Science and Tourism, the Hon. John Moore, granted the STS project 'Major Projects Facilitation Status'. The Minister's Department of Industry, Science and Tourism (DIST) assisted STS in identifying the project approvals required, and coordinating the activities of the various approval agencies to facilitate a decision. Approvals required included foreign investment through the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975, environmental approvals in the Environment Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act 1974, and satellite launch licences under new legislation that will cover issues of Commonwealth involvement and liability relating to United Nations Space Treaties. (Refer to Appendix for a list of international space agreements and resolutions).

On 12 December 1997 the Minister announced the new legislation aimed at regulating a space launch industry. A framework for commercial launches of satellites from Australian soil, the legislation is to cover liability issues and licensing requirements to ensure that all launch activities occur in accordance with international law. The Bill includes matters of licensing, insurance, launch site approval, space object registration, range safety, fees and liability. The Space Policy Unit (SPU) within DIST covers these policy matters.

Further aspects expected to be covered by the above legislation include: payload compliance checking, overseas liaison, insurance needs, public health, range safety officer powers, the role of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and that of the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation in matters relating to airspace safety(12). There may be provision for the wholesale sales tax of 22 per cent payable by all rockets successfully leaving Australia! It may also be a good idea to have an initial fee waiver to help start the industry. Each launch licence should have two parts: the first for recurring factors such as vehicle types, site and operations approval; the second for the mission specific launch trajectories.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is to contract for the design and construction of a satellite communications payload for launch on the Optus-C1 satellite in 2000. Until now, our defence agencies have leased communications space, notably from the Optus system and United States military satellites. The ADF Joint Project 2008 could amount to $500 million for a global broadcast system but there are apparently no guarantees of use of the local industry. Further information may provide details on this important aspect of space development, should there be a decision to build a dedicated Australian defence satellite.

The Australian Contingency Plan for Space Re-Entry Debris sets in place arrangements to be followed by all Federal and State Government agencies for coordinating the actions involved in locating, recovering and dealing with the effects of radioactive space debris. Emergency Management Australia is the Commonwealth Government's agency having responsibility for emergency management of space debris across all portfolios and reports to the Minister for Defence. More than 7000 sizeable items orbit the Earth and the last threat to Australia came on the re-entry of the Russian Mars-96 probe. The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space has a program to review debris in space, through use of mathematical models to track objects and mitigation and protection measures. Australia has representation on the Committee.

Australia has treaty level agreements with many governments for space programs(13). It has one with the United States for the NASA Space Vehicle Tracking and Communications Facilities, ballooning and sub-orbital small rocket campaigns. Another is with ESA for a cooperative space-tracking program. We cooperate with the France for the establishment and use of the Precise Satellite Location Beacon System and the launching and tracking of balloons. Australia and Russia agree to cooperate in space research and we have a Memorandum of Understanding with China for cooperation in the fields of space commerce and technology. A similar commercial agreement exists with Japan and with the Federal Republic of Germany for the landing and recovery of the Express capsule. On 24 September 1994, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) adopted the Beijing declaration on space technology applications for environmentally sound and sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific. A review of the ESCAP efforts occurs in 1999 (Refer to the Appendix on page 17 onwards for a complete transcription of the declaration proposing a cooperative program of space activities including satellite meteorology, remote sensing, communications and education).

Space Industry Policy

Given our history of involvement in British and later European space programs, as well as a continuing support role in NASA activities, one might have expected that Australia would have moved beyond its peripheral role. Australia has made a great effort towards its astronomy programs. We built the simple satellites, Wresat in 1967 and Australis-Oscar 5 in 1970. We built skills in spacecraft tracking, rocket systems, satellite communications, through the Aussat and now Optus Communications satellites, and in remote sensing. However, successive governments only committed small funds towards a space program and its high technology industries, and might be said to have regarded space as a high-risk arena and Cold War relic. The allocation of direct space funds ceased in July 1996; the current Australian Government has used existing funding mechanisms, and directed them to a practical demonstration program, through the Cooperative Research Centre program. The Government has stated goals for Australia: to be a player on the international scene and to build scientific and industrial capacity through innovative, modest space missions.

After establishment of the Australian Space Office (ASO) in 1987, successive Federal Budgets only provided around $4 million per year for the so-called non-CSIRO National Space Program (NSP), to total $30.2 million over 1985-1992. This was around a third of the amount spent by the CSIRO on space (mainly astronomy) over that period, with 240 full time positions including the ATNF and science programs. The establishment of the Australian Space Council (ASC) in 1993 came as a result of the 1992 Curtis review of the NSP. In July 1995 the Commonwealth announced an Interdepartmental Committee on International Space Review of the NSP with wide bureaucratic representation. It reported favourably in 1996 on the economic basis of national space capability, evaluating the NSP and its administrative structures. In its submission, the Australian Academy of Science lamented the limited space program and recommended that the Federal Government support it with $20 million per year. The Institution of Engineers Australia believed that a local space industry had failed to flourish because Australian companies had no significant domestic space programs on which to build a critical mass of expertise and support. In the Institution's estimation, Australia was continuing to pay over $600 million each year for overseas space services. Later funding for the NSP was $5.4 million in 1992-93, $5.5 million for 1993-94, and $9.26 million ($3 million carryover) for 1994-95. These funds were to terminate in June 1996 after a full review by the new Government. Despite there being six favourable Australian reports on space over the previous decade and despite the existence of the ASC and ASO, with expenditure of $60 million, the NSP wilted from lack of government commitment. There were also other problems within the administration of both ASO and CSIRO relating to budgetary arrangements and technical skill levels(14). The new Government terminated the ASC and ASO to replace them by the small Space Policy Unit within DIST and created the FedSat program under CSIRO's auspices. The 1997-98 Budget provided $0.7 million for the NSP plus the $20 million FedSat funding pledge.

Several programs had dominated NSP funding. The NSP provided $10 million for the Australian Endeavour space telescope, built by Auspace and others, to fly twice on the NASA Space Shuttle as an industry and astronomy demonstration project. The Along Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR) was an $11 million project for Auspace and British Aerospace Australia to build and use a remote-sensing instrument, launched on the European ERS-2 spacecraft. Auspace won a $4 million contract for parts of the next (Advanced) AATSR, due for launch in 1999. The NSP provided up to $0.5 million per annum, for each of three Space Industry Development Centres handling Signal Processing, Microwave Technology and Satellite Navigation. There were also other smaller projects for satellites and data systems accounting for the remaining NSP funding. Industry benefited from all of these programs (see page 4). Among major proposals for funding were space systems and launchers. The Atmospheric Pressure Sensor (APS) was a proposal for a locally developed remote sensing instrument, but uncertain funding cancelled the program, following a $1.7 million feasibility study. The APS required around $15 million to develop fully. The ASO and Russian companies long studied the feasibility of launching satellites from Australia, without much visible result, apart from much travel by delegations between each nation. The Russian Radioastron space telescope did have local participation through CSIRO with ASO funding support. The 1996 Federal Budget allocated $2.6 million to enable continued operation of two of the Space Industry Development Centres, completion of components of the AATSR work, hypersonic research at the University of Queensland, Australian National University and the Australian Defence Force Academy, and provided funds for the ARIES feasibility study.

It is important that these capabilities achieved in the past are built upon for national benefit. Industry proponents set a vision fifteen years into the future, which is necessary given the timelines required to complete space programs(15). Their vision identifies key space applications, supported by an indigenous industrial capacity, that enables the export of high technology. Specific aspects include local industry providing a set proportion of communications satellite requirements, a share in remote sensing, contribution to world space meteorology and space science, development of satellite terminal markets and a launch capability. The communications requirement includes an industry share in Intelsat and Inmarsat programs to which Australia contributes but utilises only overseas-built systems. Local companies could form as consortia or look for industry market niches.

A Space Industry Policy is under development in 1998 by DIST. The policy may state objectives (targets and benchmarks), government role, responsibilities (e.g. to ESCAP) and sectoral considerations (industry input must be strong and cooperative). Another matter for Australia to consider is that of regional cooperation in an Asia Pacific Space Forum and international obligations such as the ESCAP Beijing Declaration and United Nation agreements and treaties. By comparison, Britain aims to develop a fully competitive earth observation industry by 2005, a strong science program and links within ESA, etc. American space policy aims to answer the big questions of safe aviation, public communication and international cooperation, planetary formation, life and environments.

Life in Space

The eternal question of whether there is life in space may appear rather arcane, but in fact the matter interests many people here and around the world. The official search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI) is a scientific venture that uses radio and optical telescopes to listen for possible signals produced by life elsewhere in space. While so far the search has been fruitless, that important result in itself suggests the uniqueness of our place in the Cosmos. Our institutions have had some official and amateur involvement in SETI programs through CSIRO, the SETI Institute, SETI Australia and The Planetary Society. Some opponents to SETI argue that its hypothesis of life is unavoidably Earth-centric and non-falsifiable. In other words, if nothing is found, the question remains unanswered. Planetary exploration has an inspirational aspect that attracts talented professionals and youngsters alike. It seeks answers to the question of life in the universe, as an affirmation of the human spirit. However, Australia's contributions to planetary science have been minimal apart from several scientists involved in space-related geology and mathematics.

One investigation seeks out life on the planet Mars. Following the sensational announcement by some NASA scientists in 1996 of the existence of fossilised remains in Martian meteorites, considerable debate has ensued as to proof of simple Martian lifeforms. The original evidence, using geochemical analyses and scanning electron microscope imaging of portions of a meteorite collected in Antarctica, identified chemicals, structure, grains and minerals of a type that together suggested biological processes. However, opposing investigations suggested complex inorganic mechanisms for the identified characteristics, perhaps due to Martian hydrothermal systems along with terrestrial contamination. In early 1998 separate researchers identified the claimed Martian lifeforms as being terrestrial in origin, based on isotopic and amino acid compositions. Australian scientists are active in assessing life in thermal springs such as found on Mars.

According to local planetary scientist Dr Malcolm Walter, Australia is well placed to make highly targeted, influential and effective contributions, but is contributing little at present. We have opportunities to achieve some of the benefits to society that other nations in this program consider worthwhile. Included among benefits that could flow to us are: technology transfer, new educational opportunities for students at all levels and inspiration that could lead more good students into science and engineering. NASA has now focussed a major part of its program on this issue under the $1.5 billion, five year Origins Program, and as a result there is a good chance that within a few years we could know if there was once life on Mars or elsewhere. Specific contributions that Australia can make include provision of a very high level of experience in satellite mapping for minerals and rocks on the surface of Mars; highly specialised instruments to go to Mars; theoretical and empirical 'models' of the formation of the type of deposits in which fossils could be found; and a very high level of expertise in finding and recognising fossil evidence of bacterial life.

In the process of exploring Mars we can learn a great deal about the Earth because in many ways the two planets are twins. For instance, Mars may provide profoundly significant information relevant to understanding the workings of the Earth's atmosphere, and to the formation of many of our most valuable mineral deposits. Beneath the surface of Mars temperatures are higher, water is liquid, and there could still be bacteria living there. Biologists are just now learning about what appears to be a bacterial ecosystem underground on Earth. Similar considerations apply to the study of other planets.

According to astrophysicist Dr Ray Norris of the ATNF there is no firm evidence of extraterrestrial life in our own Solar System. If life forms are found on Mars there are implications for life on other planets as to whether life is a frequently occurring process. If there are many Earth-like planets and if life forms usually evolve towards civilisation, then there should be many civilisations. There is now evidence for planets around other stars using indirect techniques, such as searching for a wobble in stars, that reveal whether a planet is present and its size. Perhaps some ten per cent of stars have planetary systems. As a result of SETI work, technically advanced Earth-like civilisations on the nearest few stars now seem unlikely, although there may be other types of civilisations, especially on more distant stars. There may well be a profound impact on Earth if we detect something. In this case, an international scientific SETI protocol exists to determine our next move in space.

However, we may not be around to consider how best to respond, given the dangers existing to Earth from orbiting natural space debris. A number of studies have determined that a very real chance exists for some natural space object to strike the planet with disastrous consequences, as has happened occasionally in the past(16). Spaceguard is an international project to search for asteroids and comets that may threaten life on Earth or seriously disrupt human activities. Australian support for the effort ceased in 1996, despite the relatively low cost and international importance that the search has gained. NASA and the United States defence forces hope that their Near Earth Asteroid Tracking program will detect any surprise visitors to our planet. An estimated 6000 such bodies remain undetected and yet could wreak extensive havoc, if not causing total annihilation. Let us hope that our chance for continued existence in the Cosmos is not lost to a large piece of rocky ice. An observing program based in the Southern Hemisphere would be worthwhile.

In the meantime, Australia is to participate in the major international astronomical Gemini Project, involving observing time on two powerful optical-infrared telescopes located in Hawaii and Chile. When completed in 2000, these telescopes will enable observations into the past up to 10 billion light years ago and will complement the recent, amazing discoveries of the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. Funding for our involvement comes through the Australian Research Council and DIST that will support university, AAO and other participants to the amount of $13.6 million over the next 5 years plus up to $1 million in annual operating costs: a national share of 4.7 per cent towards capital funding. With investments in Gemini, the AAO, gravity-wave detectors and other astronomical observatories, Australia is well positioned to participate in a golden age of astronomy.

Space Futures

Can we all expect to tour in Earth's orbit in the near future perhaps staying at a space hotel, or cruise the spaceways in a liner? Some believe that the space tourism era is here now. With the development of international standards for airspace traffic control, trade, and routes for transport, such as those that exist for airlines, then 'spacelines' may follow, they believe. National and international policies to encourage market growth and investment through a global spaceways forum may well set the policy, standards, regulations and protocols for the future. Past Cold War era space programs excluded public participation. There are thus no space policies to allow public involvement and market development. Governments may have an economic public welfare role to encourage private investment in the space sector for long term benefit. Space development with public involvement may be a necessary policy vision.

There are a number of private initiatives in space tourism now in development. Back in the 1980s travel company Society Expeditions offered registrations of interest in its Seattle-based Space Travel Company, attracting 250 personal deposits of $10 770 each, subsequently returned, for the $76 900 flight. Now also in Seattle, Zegrahm Space Voyages has started taking $13 850 deposits from budding passengers expecting to fly in space by 2001. Zegrahm and Vela Technology intend to manufacture small, jet-like vehicles to enable the $150 770 trips into orbit. Another group, Pioneer Rocketplane, has similar plans, while Interglobal Space Lines now offer zero-gravity flights over the Mojave Desert. Space Adventures offers tourists the chance to experience weightlessness and a trip to the edge of space. For $8460, people can experience a few minutes of zero gravity in flights on a modified Russian aircraft. For $18 300, they can now soar 24 km up in a Russian jet. The Boeing Company may have led the way for the appropriate technological development strategy through the series of demonstration flights made by its Delta Clipper DC-X vertical take off and landing rocket. After successful tests, in 1995 NASA aimed for a reusable launch vehicle to replace Space Shuttle type operations through rapid turnaround and prototype use. Lockheed Martin now continues development of the X-33/VentureStar reusable vehicle slated for first launch in 1999, subject to the continuation of funds.

Some take a less sanguine view of the prospects for space tourism, seeing it as an over-hyped marketing ploy. While a market may exist, no one as yet appears to have a launch vehicle capable of safely carrying humans to orbit and back. Most of the competing projects have in mind the $15 million X-Prize supposedly offered for the first privately financed, entirely reusable vehicle able to carry two humans into orbit twice within a two week period. Others like Shimizu of Japan envisage an orbiting space hotel for 200 guests. Space aficionados may expect to soar in orbit by the turn of the century, though at a price. They may remember the futuristic scenes aboard the concave Hilton Hotel, inside the orbiting Space Station as featured in the classic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. A feature of the Hotel was automatic vending machines and videophones that now appear almost commonplace. Dreams of space tourism may come about, but it is a matter of waiting for the DC-X or VentureStar to orbit.

Space Exploitation and Application

An Australian sociologist in science and technology studies postulates that space exploration could lead to ecologically polluted planets with subservient populations controlled by imperialist multi-global corporations. This view dismisses economic, military or populist models of space development as demonstrating no need to go into space at all(17). It sees the international treaties mentioned above as imperialist and favouring prospectors. Others assert that the possible imperialist outcome requires greater input now by the public and environmental organisations, despite their current opposition to any proposed launch sites. Space exploration can combine a frontier approach with images of social democracy and utopian vision that do not necessarily sit well with the realities of social divisions, economic inequities and unethical cultural injustices on Earth. In this view, space exploration might better concern discovery, learning and intellectualism rather than materialism, colonisation and damaging exploitation(18).

Public space education and awareness programs provide an important way for nations to develop their technical expertise. The British Millennium Commission supports an educational small satellite program through the Millennium Satellite Centre, while the United States has a myriad of such activities. Here, without coordination, the Centre for Australian Space Education, the annual Australian International Space School, the Australian Astronaut Academy, the National Space Society of Australia and its annual conferences, The Planetary Society and independent space advocacy groups have assisted in their own ways. Tertiary institutions offer space science and engineering programs, while some also link to the France-based International Space University and its multi-disciplinary, multi-campus programs. However in Australia, unlike elsewhere, there has been little academic study of space policy matters, with no academic institution specialising in the field. Space promotion remains uncoordinated and without focus.

While most of humanity remains in poverty due to prevailing social ethos, economic policies and government maladministration, space science and technology have enabled improvements in the quality of life around the world. After adopting scientific programs, India and China have become self-sufficient in food production and have also benefited from strong space technology efforts particularly in communications and remote sensing. Long lead times necessitate strong financial planning, training and international cooperation. Initial satellite procurement abroad enables later versions to be developed internally. The first (Russian) modules of the International Space Station will reach orbit from mid-1998 to set the scene for space cooperation into the next century. An Australian is now orbiting the Earth in the ageing Russian 'Mir' Space Station. The opportunity exists for Australia to play a vital part in this and other space activities and reap the benefits.


  2. James, M.L., 'History of Australia's Space Involvement', Australia and Space, Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 94, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University, Canberra, 1992, pp. 122-143.
  4. Dougherty, K.A. & James, M.L., Space Australia: The story of Australia's involvement in space, Powerhouse Publishing, Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, 1993.
  6. Prytz, J., Australia in the Space Age: Past, Present & Future, Information Guide No. 15, Parliamentary Library Information Service, Department of the Parliamentary Library, Parliament of Australia, Canberra, October 1995.
  8. Middleton, B.S., 'FedSat: Aiming For The Right Orbit?', Proceedings: The Eleventh National Space Engineering Symposium, 26 February 1997, University of New South Wales, Sydney, The Institution of Engineers Australia, Canberra, pp. 1-12.
  10. Australian Space Office, Observing Australia: The Role of Remote Sensing in a Balanced National Space Program, Department of Industry, Technology and Commerce, Canberra, 1992.
  12. Hee, C.H., Soo, K.J. & Hwan, K.T., 'Lessons from the Japanese space development policy: from follower to independent developer', Science and Public Policy, Vol. 24, No. 4, Guildford, August 1997, pp. 223-232.
  14. James, M.L., Asian Satellites Broadcasting Pay TV to Australia, Research Note No. 22, 1996-97, Information and Research Services, Department of the Parliamentary Library, Parliament of Australia, Canberra, December 1996.
  16. James, M.L., Billions and billions of dollars in orbit: global links for mobile phones, Research Note No. 38 1996-97, Information and Research Services, Department of the Parliamentary Library, Parliament of Australia, Canberra, March 1997.
  18. Cratt, G., The Practical Guide to Satellite TV, AV-COMM Pty Ltd, Balgowlah, 1996, 116pp.
  20. Clark, P. (ed.), Jane's Space Directory, 13th edition 1997-98, Jane's Information Group, Surrey, 1997.
  22. Wilson, A. (ed.), Jane's Space Directory, 12th edition 1996-97, Jane's Information Group, Surrey, 1996.
  24. James, M.L., Airspace Safety: Air Traffic Control and Airline Operations in Australia, Background Paper No. 10 1997-98, Information and Research Services, Department of the Parliamentary Library, Parliament of Australia, Canberra, December 1997.
  26. Australian Space Council, Annual Report 1994-95, AGPS, Canberra, 31 May 1996.
  28. Deeker, W. 'COSSA: vision and perseverance', Space Industry News, CSIRO Office of Space Science and Applications, No. 77, Canberra, 1997, pp. 3-9.
  30. Stapinski, T., 'A Space Policy for Australia', Australia and Space, Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 94, Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University, Canberra, 1992, pp. 343-359.
  32. Brown, G. & James, M.L., Comet and Asteroid Impacts: does Earth need protection?, Current Issues Brief No. 15 1994-95, Parliamentary Research Service, Department of the Parliamentary Library, Parliament of Australia, Canberra, August 1994.
  34. Marshall, A., 'Development and imperialism in space', Space Policy, Vol. 11, No. 1, Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford, February, 1995, pp. 41-52.
  36. Rao, U.R., 'Establishing the Organisational and Institutional Infrastructure for a National Space Program', Seminars of the United Nations Program on Space Applications, Selected Papers on Remote Sensing, Satellite Communications and Space Science, No. 5, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, Vienna 1994, pp. 13- 30.


International Space Agreements and United Nations General Assembly Resolutions

The 1966 Treaty on the Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies of 27 January 1967, provides that space exploration will occur for the equal benefit of all countries.

The 1967 Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space of 22 April 1968, provides for assistance to crews.

The 1971 Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects of 29 March 1972, provides that the launching State is liable for damage to another State.

The 1974 Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space of 12 December 1976, provides that launching States will maintain registries of space objects for inclusion in a central United Nations register. Apparently Australia has not done this task.

The 1979 Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies elaborates in more specific terms on the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

The Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Uses of Outer Space, adopted in 1963, set forth the basis of international space law.

The Principles Governing the Use by States of Artificial Earth Satellites for International Direct Television Broadcasting, adopted in 1982 considers political, social, economic and cultural implications of broadcasting services.

The Principle Relating to Remote Sensing of the Earth from Space, adopted in 1986 states that such activities should benefit all countries, respect sovereignties and resource rights.

The Principles Relevant to the Use of Nuclear Power Sources in Outer Space, adopted in 1992, requires design of such systems to minimise radiation exposure in case of accident.

As well, on 13 December 1996, the United Nations adopted a Declaration on International Cooperation in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space for the Benefit and in the Interest of All States, Taking into Particular Account the Needs of Developing Countries.

The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space considers all of these issues. Earlier United Nations' resolutions relating to the exploration and peaceful use of outer space date from 12 December 1959, 20 December 1961 and 13 December 1963.

Beijing Declaration on Space Technology Applications for Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific

We, the members and associate members of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific ESCAP, convening at the Ministerial Conference on Space Applications for Development in Asia and the Pacific held in Beijing on 23 and 24 September 1994,

Bearing in mind that space technology applications are gaining an ever-increasing significance in everyday life and are playing an ever greater role, not only for developed countries, but also for the developing world, in promoting environmentally sound and sustainable development;

Reaffirming the commitments to the provisions contained in the United Nations Charter and relevant international convention and instruments on the peaceful use of space technology for the benefit of mankind, and Guided by the various decisions, recommendations and resolutions adopted by different United Nations forums and other forums, on the peaceful use of space technology for the benefits of mankind, among others:

(i) Commission resolution 49/5 of 29 April 1993 on the regional programs on space applications for development;

(ii) Agenda 21 of June 1992, which is a program of action for a global partnership for sustainable development worldwide;

(iii) Commission resolution 4X/1 of 23 April 1992 on the declaration on enhancing regional economic cooperation;

(iv) Recommendation of the Commission at its forty-eighth session to initiate a space applications program in the ESCAP region;

(v) Ministerial Declaration on Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific adopted by the Ministerial-level Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific in October 1990, and the Regional Strategy on Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Development endorsed by the Commission in its resolution 47/7 of 10 April 1991;

(vi) Commission resolution 47/8 of 10 April 1991 on the regional cooperation and coordination in remote sensing and geographic information systems;

(vii) General Assembly resolution 41/65 of 3 December 1986 on principles relating to remote sensing of the Earth from outer space;

(viii) UNISPACE '82, August 1982 which provides a blueprint for effectively realising the potential benefits from space science, technology and their applications for socioeconomic development, particularly in the developing world; and

(ix) General Assembly resolutions 1472 (XIV) of 12 December 1959, 1721 (XVI) of 20 December 1961 and 1962 (XVI11) of 13 December 1963 relating to the exploration and peaceful use of outer space.

Realising that currently there is a global concern regarding natural resources depletion and environmental degradation which calls for taking a holistic view of natural resources and the environment through better scientific understanding of the problems;

Recognising that space technology applications have been of immense benefit to natural resources management, environmental monitoring, development planning, education and human resource development in both developed and developing countries;

Considering that there is an ever-increasing interest in the comprehensive use of a wide spectrum of space technologies, including satellite remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS), satellite meteorology, satellite communications, global positioning systems, and environmental and disaster monitoring systems, to assist in poverty alleviation and address information needs in environmentally sound and sustainable development planning process;

Noting that members and associate members of ESCAP have already developed infrastructure for applications of the new technologies in their national development projects and planning;

Agreeing that space applications are becoming an essential element in environmentally sound and sustainable development planning process and in addressing national and regional problems and that their importance will keep growing with time, thereby leading to investments in capability-building for increasing dimensions of space technologies and their applications, which will ultimately promote industrial development and economic growth;

Comprehending that the benefits from these investments would become more cost-effective and accessible if the members and associate members of ESCAP could pool their resources and collaborate in using space technology for development purposes;

Also noting that the problems confronting the members and associate members of ESCAP usually transcend national boundaries and that to tackle them on a long-term and sustainable basis would require cooperation among countries of the region:

Understanding that regional cooperation and coordination are important complements to individual national activities to enable different countries in Asia and the Pacific to share their experience and expertise to solve problems of a similar nature:

Taking into account a number of initiatives in recent years proposing various regional cooperation schemes and coordination mechanisms for harnessing space technologies for the solution of regional problems and applications of space technologies for environmentally sound and sustainable development;

Acknowledging the excellent efforts of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in building up regional confidence in using space technology for sustainable natural resources and environmental management through its UNDP-funded Regional Remote Sensing Program;

Also realising that there is an urgent need for a regional strategy to harmonise the various activities in space technology applications and to enhance cooperation among members and associate members of ESCAP and the institutions both within and outside the United Nations system in space applications for sustainable development;

Recognising the national competence of members and associate members to formulate, adopt and implement their respective policies on space technology applications for development, mindful of their social, economic and political conditions;

Hereby reaffirm that the members and associate members of ESCAP, in accordance with the recommendations of UNISPACE '82, have the right to the exploration and peaceful use of outer space and to the use of space technologies for their natural resources and environmental management and sustainable development planning;

Agree that space technology and its applications and spin-offs have immense benefits for sustainable social and economic development and as such the rights of the members and associate members to space technology development and applications must be fulfilled so as to meet equitably the developmental and environmental needs of the present and future generations;

Assent that in order to achieve environmentally sound and sustainable development in accordance with the principles laid down by the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development under Agenda 21, the members and associate members of ESCAP should integrate space technology and applications into the national development planning process;

Also agree that to ensure cooperation and harmonisation of activities and to work for economical, sustainable and equitable access to space technology and its applications, the members and associate members of ESCAP shall establish a regional cooperation program on space applications for development in the region;

Adopt the overall approach and thrust of the strategy for regional cooperation in space applications for sustainable development finalised by the preparatory meeting of senior officials on space applications for development, held in Beijing from 19 to 22 September 1994, which is designed to promote national capability-building in the countries in the ESCAP region through a regional approach to make increasing use of space technologies for addressing the urgent problems confronting them, including those identified in Agenda 21;

Endorse the action plan on space applications for sustainable development in the ESCAP region, also finalised during the preparatory meeting of senior officials which identifies national and regional activities to promote space technology applications for natural resource accounting, environmental management, poverty alleviation and sustainable development planning:

Declare that the Regional Space Applications Program for Environmentally Sound and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific is now launched, based on the strategy and the action plan adopted and endorsed under this Declaration, with immediate effect;

Urge all members and associate members of ESCAP, bilateral and multilateral donors and international organisations to support the strategy for regional cooperation in space applications for sustainable development and the action plan on space applications for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific and facilitate the formation and strengthening of the national and regional mechanisms for space technology applications in the region;

Call upon all members and associate members of ESCAP to participate actively in the Regional Space Applications Program for Sustainable Development, and to reconstitute the Inter-governmental Consultative Committee (ICC) on the ESCAP Regional Remote Sensing Program, defining its modus operandi and new mandates to cover matters relating to the Regional Space Applications Program for Sustainable Development;

Recommend that to generate policy-level interest in space technology applications for environmentally sound and sustainable development and to help in greater understanding and wider use by the various programs of ESCAP of this new technology and its applications for environmentally sound and sustainable development, one of the future annual sessions of the Commission should include a specific agenda item on space technology applications for environmentally sound and sustainable development;

Further request the Executive Secretary to convene a second Ministerial Conference on Space Applications for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific in 1999 to review regional development efforts under the strategy and the action plan on space applications for sustainable development in the ESCAP region endorsed by the present Conference.

      • Source. United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, United Nations Building. Rajdamnern Avenue, Bangkok 10200, Thailand.


(A)ATSR (Advanced) Along Track Scanning Radiometer development program.
APS Atmospheric Pressure Sensor remote sensing instrument proposal.
ARIES Australian Resource Information and Environment Satellite project.
ASO/C Australian Space Office/Council formerly in control of space policy.
ASRI Australian Space Research Institute amateur rocket and satellite group.
ATNF Australian Telescope National Facility used for radio astronomy.
COSSA CSIRO Office of Space Science and Applications that begat CRCSS.
CRCSS Cooperative Research Centre for Satellite Systems oversees FedSat.
CSIRO Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
DIST Department of Industry, Science and Tourism for Australia.
ESA European Space Agency representing 14 member nations.
ESCAP United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific.
FedSat Federation Satellite One project administered by CRCSS.
Inmarsat International Maritime Satellite Organisation for communications.
Intelsat International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation.
IRC International Resource Corporation, a Russian-French-Korean venture.
Landsat Earth-resources applications technology satellite of the United States.
NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the United States.
NSP National Space Program formerly promoted by ASO and ASC.
SETI Search for extra-terrestrial intelligence or signals from life in space.
Spot Systme Probatoire d'Observation de la Terre satellite of France.
SPU Space Policy Unit with DIST administers commercial launch policy
STS Space Transportation System American-Thai satellite launch venture.
ULS United Launch Systems proposal linked to STS to launch satellites.
Wresat Weapons Research Establishment Satellite launched by Australia 1967.