Space to the Rescue: Australia’s National Dependencies on Space Technologies

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The question as to whether or not our federal government will invest in a “space sector” has been hotly debated in the last few years. In 2023, the budget for the Australian Space Agency was significantly reduced, planned National Space Mission for Earth Observation was cancelled, and investment in several launch sites across the country was cut. At the same time, it was unclear as to whether space technologies would fall under AUKUS plans, or under the National Reconstruction Fund.

But why does any of this matter? Why should we be concerned about investing in space technologies at all, when there are so many pressing issues on Earth, and at home in Australia?

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Presented by the Royal Society of Victoria for the Inspiring Victoria program.

The missing piece in most of the debates has been a clearer explanation of how space technologies and infrastructure form a major part of our country’s dependencies, our critical infrastructure, and our priorities on an individual and national level. Climate change, disaster response, agriculture, mining, urban planning and housing, water and coastal region health, fisheries, Indigenous land and water management, telecommunications and internet access in remote, rural and regional areas, and geopolitical stability in Asia and the Indo-Pacific – all of these issues depend in large part on space-based services and infrastructure.

Join Dr Cassandra Steer, Chair of the Australian Centre for Space Governance, who will outline some good news stories about how much “space” Australia already does, and some concerning stories about the risks we face due to our foreign and commercial dependencies.

About the Speaker

Cassandra Steer

Dr Cassandra Steer is Deputy Director – Mission Specialists at the Australian National University Institute for Space (InSpace). She is also Chair and founder of the Australian Centre for Space Governance. Globally recognised for her expertise in space governance, space law, and space security, she has published widely on these topics, including the application of the law of armed conflict and use of force in outer space. She has consulted to the Australian, Canadian and U.S Departments of Defence, the Australian Space Agency and Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on these issues. She has taught space law and space security at McGill University, the ANU College of Law, the National Security College and the Australian Defence College.

Dr Steer is multilingual, and has lived and worked in five countries, in a range of educational, non-profit and public institutions. She has degrees in philosophy, civil law, international law, international criminal law, and training in common law, comparative law and space law. Dr Steer is a member of the Australian Space Agency’s Technical Advisory Group for Space Situational Awareness, a member of the Space Traffic Management Committee of the International Academy of Astronautics, and a member of the International Institute of Space Law.