An “Australian” Space Agency?
Written by: (Contributed) on 12 April 2022
An allocation of $1.16 billion in the federal budget for Australia's recently established national Space Agency has carried all the hallmarks of a seemingly localised affair. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. Reliable information readily available elsewhere, has revealed the ASA will operate in conjunction with NASA, their US counterpart together with other US-led military organisations; Australia is strategically-placed to host further sensitive facilities, including global positioning systems.
Documents recently released by the Defence Department reveal widespread research into dual-use facilities linking civil with space defence projects, as part of the US-led militarisation of the Indo-Pacific region.
The Australian coalition government announced during budget talks they intended to triple the size of the home-based space sector by 2030, to a total costing of $12 billion; a longer, seventeen-year program has also been planned. (1) The allocation of $1.16 billion has been primarily targeted at the designing, building and launching of four satellite systems operated by the ASA in conjunction with the government's CSIRO.
The official government statement also included reference to agreements with international partners for a total allocation of $65.7 billion over the next five years 'to fast track the launch of space assets and research projects by Australian businesses and researchers'. (2)
The combined budget allocation has followed the request by the Australian government to seek increased NATO co-operation in the Indo-Pacific region at a recent two-day meeting in the headquarters in Brussels attended by Foreign Minister Marise Payne; NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenburg formally committed the increased support for Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea on the basis of working 'more closely together in other areas such as maritime security … through their security arrangements with key NATO members Britain and the US'. (3)
The stated aim of the ASA program, however, was to 'allow Australia to be less reliant on other nations for critical Earth observation data', according to Science and Technology Minister, Melissa Price. (4) Perhaps that particular government department is not party to many of the foreign affairs agendas and related information for reasons best known to those at higher levels in Canberra.
A brief media release elsewhere also drew attention to Australia signing a deal with NASA in the US to 'enhance the observation of the Earth and help forecast weather and climate changes'. (5) It was also announced the deal would establish 'technology sharing' between Australia and the US, with the satellite system being used to 'exploit Australia's natural advantage … in ... the southern hemisphere … we're ideally placed to establish a world-leading satellite calibration'. (6)
A further $900 million was also made available in the federal budget for a five-year program 'to enhance defence, space and quantum technology … with specific reference to … the need to enhance the space sector … for global positioning systems'. (7) GPS facilities are used for ground-control of satellite and space systems. Reference in the media release to industry and the commercialised world has left little to the imagination; private industry will be subsidised for work in the defence sector. (8)
Defence spending on projects for space and ground stations has included an allocation of $17 billion in the period leading to 2036. (9) Disclosures have also noted 'the civil and defence space sectors are almost identical … they use practically the same technologies for different purposes … Earth Observation satellites can also conduct surveillance missions', showing how dual-use technologies are being developed and how they will be used. (10)
An example of the latter was contained in an April 8 announcement that US companies Boeing and ExoAnalytic will provide the Australian Government a fully operational Space Domain Awareness capability which is ready to deploy immediately, and to be operated by a local Australian team. ExoAnalytic describes itself as the “largest optical telescope network in the world, provides unmatched availability, persistence, quality, and timeliness of data for defense, intelligence, and commercial satellite operator needs. In addition to our trusted space domain awareness solutions for the defense of interests in space, we offer world-class missile defense technology solutions for optimal sensor and weapon system performance, and cutting-edge systems analysis solutions to facilitate the acquisition of dominant weapon systems for decisive advantage in all-domain warfare.” The system being prepared for Australia has civilian uses, principally to warn commercial satellite operators of oncoming space debris, but its main purpose is to “support RAAF space command operations… ensuring optimal reliability of defence weapon, navigation and communications systems which rely on satellite communications.” ExoAnalyitc has already established a network of more than 70 ground-based telescopes across 10 sites in Australia and promises to build more, so that we get more US bases here masquerading as Australian and “joint” facilities. (11)
Another related consideration has also arisen: the US space program has recently publicised how it was 'trying to foster economic activity in orbits close to Earth'; revealing how defence is aiming to subsidise massive financial commitments through commercial outlets to reduce future budget constraints. (12)
Problems already experienced by the space program and the growing military-industrial complex have also noted difficulties arising with the necessary security clearances 'to safely negotiate both regimes simultaneously … with … both civil and defence/national security aims'. (13) While the proposed space industry is set to become a dominant part of the South Australian economy with an estimated 20,000 new jobs by 2030, the whole question of security vetting and its effect upon families and associates has been given little publicity, for obvious reasons. (14) Civil liberties, however, do not appear to cause the instigators of these space programs any serious concern whatsoever. They reside inside a world of plausible denial.
At no time in any of the media releases or media coverage has reference been given to the US using Australia as a hub for 'US interests' in the Indo-Pacific region, where their rising competition with China has dominated regional diplomatic discourse and raised the very real prospect of a 'limited war' taking place. The fact that Australian tax-payers are expected to pay for US-led foreign policy is also a matter not raised through official channels. The chosen response from Canberra has remained one of diplomatic silence.
The long and sordid history of the US interference in Australian politics through deceit and subversion has also been given little coverage; it has been noted, nevertheless, that Pine Gap, for example, 'is used to eavesdrop on Australian Government communications'. (15)
In conclusion, the so-called 'alliance' is really a US-led regional foreign policy project, which has tended to operate under a number of covers to ensure Australian governments comply with Washington and the Pentagon. (16)
The so-called Australian space program is just the latest example:
We need an independent foreign policy!
1. Satellite funding rise to conquer final frontier, Budget 22, Australian, 30 March 2022.
3. NATO rises to our Asia-Pacific challenge, The Weekend Australian, 3-4 April 2022.
4. Satellite funding, op.cit., Australian, 30 April 2022.
5. NASA on-board for Aussie mission, Australian, 6 April 2022.
7. $900 million map to steer our research, Australian, 7 April 2022.
9. Space investment takes shape, Defence Research, Australian, 8 April 2022.
11. See: Boeing, ExoAnalytic team up on Australian-operated space domain awareness system - APDR (asiapacificdefencereporter.com) and Who We Are – ExoAnalytic Solutions
12. First private mission makes date with space station, Australian, 11 April 2022.
13. Space investment, op.cit., Australian, 8 April 2022.
14. Satellite funding rise to conquer final frontier, op.cit., 30 April 2022.
15. The secrets of Pine Gap, William Pinwill, Australian Penthouse, October 1979, pp. 62-68.
16. See: The CIA and Australian politics 1973-1977, Part 2, The CIA's Australian connection, Denis Freney, (Sydney, 1977), pp. 22-26; and, The Falcon and the Snowman, Robert Lindsey, (London, 1981).
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