Australia, US sign an agreement on defense space cooperation

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-11-22 15:37:34

Australia and the United States have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covering the relocation of a highly advanced USspace surveillance telescope to the Harold E Holt Naval Communication Facility in Western Australia, the Australian Department of Defense said Friday in Canberra.

The agreement was signed in Washington by Defense Minister David Johnston and his US counterpart Chuck Hagel and described by Johnston as a key outcome of the 2013 Australia-USMinisterial Consultations in Washington.

"Like all modern economies, Australia relies upon space for a range of purposes, including national security, banking, navigation, communications and weather forecasting. Often we do not realize that the technologies upon which our modern lifestyles depend both utilize and rely on assured access to space-based capabilities," Johnston said in a statement.

"Just as our dependence on space is growing, however, so too are the risks to our access to space. These risks include increasing congestion of international and commercial space use, and the growing amount of orbiting space debris. The consequences of collisions in space can be devastating and uncontrollable," he added.

Under the MoU, the space surveillance telescope will assist in addressing these risks by improving the ability to monitor space over the southern hemisphere. The highly advanced technology of the telescope will enable it to observe objects in space out to 36, 000 km above the earth.

The telescope, which will be operated by Australia on US behalf, will contribute to the US global Space Surveillance Network, which provides warnings to all satellite operators of potential collisions with other satellites or debris. The telescope will complement another initiative to relocate a C-band space surveillance radar to Exmouth, Western Australia.

Under the signed agreement, Australia will be responsible for constructing a building at the Harold E. Holt facility to house the telescope, and will share the costs of operating and maintaining the telescope with the US Air Force.

And the telescope is expected to operate from 2016.

Johnston also confirmed that this initiative represents a giant leap forward in Australia-US defense space cooperation.

"This is a significant initiative under the Australia-US Space Situational Awareness Partnership, and will provide an important capability for both Australia and the US," he said. "Furthermore, it is a demonstration of the ability of Australia and the United States to work together to meet shared challenges.

Posted in: Asia-Pacific

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