News Defence joins space race with new division

Defence joins space race with new division

Australia is assembling a new space division. Photo: Getty
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Australia is putting together a new space division comprising military officers from the army, navy and air force to better protect satellites from attack.

The space division will be established within the Royal Australian Air Force headquarters in Canberra early next year.

A number of countries, including Canada, France, Japan and India, have set up similar divisions, or sections, within their military.

Chief of Air Force Mel Hupfeld said guaranteeing access to the “contested domain” of space was becoming increasingly important.

Chief of Air Force Mel Hupfeld says access to the ‘contested domain’ of space is important. Photo: EPA

“However this does not mean that defence encourages the militarisation of space,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said on Wednesday.

“All space operations are conducted consistent with international and domestic legal obligations.”

Air Marshal Hupfeld said satellite technologies were used daily to gather information about the weather, navigation and geospatial intelligence.

“Defence is delivering capabilities including space domain awareness, sovereign controlled satellite communications and space-based Earth observation, and navigation,” he said.

The use of space is governed by the Outer Space Treaty, which entered into force in October 1967 and forms the basis of international space law today

The UK Space Command officially formed on April 1 this year, and is staffed from the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force and civil service.

Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts will head the new Australian division.

“To reach for the stars and actually get there is a phenomenal feeling,” she said.

“As an aero-space engineer I have always been fascinated by space – the ultimate high ground.”

A local space division will help the military develop and send small satellites into orbit that will maintain watch on space debris and assist people on the ground investigate further should a suspicious collision occur.

-with agencies