Australia/USA — Joint Statement on Space Security

As part of the 25th Aus­tralia-Unit­ed States Min­is­te­r­i­al Con­sul­ta­tions on 8 Novem­ber 2010, Min­is­ter for For­eign Affairs Kevin Rudd, Min­is­ter for Defence Stephen Smith, Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton, and Sec­re­tary of Defense Robert Gates, con­sid­ered a range of new and emerg­ing secu­ri­ty chal­lenges of the 21st cen­tu­ry. In that con­text, they dis­cussed chal­lenges to inter­na­tion­al and nation­al secu­ri­ty in the space domain.

Aus­tralia and the Unit­ed States both recog­nise that space sys­tems have become crit­i­cal nation­al infra­struc­ture. The ben­e­fits from the free use of space per­me­ate almost every facet of our dai­ly lives: from air­craft and ship nav­i­ga­tion to weath­er fore­cast­ing; from nat­ur­al resource man­age­ment to dis­as­ter recov­ery; and from glob­al telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion con­nec­tiv­i­ty to expe­dit­ed search and res­cue. Much of our defence capa­bil­i­ty is also depen­dent on satel­lites. The two Gov­ern­ments reaf­firmed that coop­er­at­ing with oth­er like-mind­ed nations to main­tain the free­dom of use of space for peace­ful pur­pos­es is crit­i­cal to our nations’ secu­ri­ty and eco­nom­ic pros­per­i­ty.

Aus­tralia and the Unit­ed States share a deep con­cern that the space envi­ron­ment is becom­ing increas­ing­ly con­gest­ed and con­test­ed. Cur­rent­ly there are an esti­mat­ed 500,000 pieces of space debris of 1 cen­time­tre diam­e­ter or larg­er in orbit around the Earth. Such debris is capa­ble of dam­ag­ing or destroy­ing satel­lites and space vehi­cles, and harm­ing human space­flight. In this regard, the devel­op­ment and test­ing of counter-space weapons that cre­ate more long-lived space debris pose a direct and imme­di­ate threat to the rights of all nations to explore and use space for peace­ful pur­pos­es. The two coun­tries there­fore rec­og­nized that work­ing togeth­er to pro­mote approach­es for respon­si­ble activ­i­ty in space is a high pri­or­i­ty. They also endorsed inten­si­fied bilat­er­al, region­al and inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion to meet this chal­lenge.

Aus­tralia wel­comed the U.S. deci­sion, reflect­ed in the June 2010 U.S. Nation­al Space Pol­i­cy, to con­sid­er space arms con­trol mea­sures that are equi­table, ver­i­fi­able and in the nation­al inter­est of the Unit­ed States and its allies. Aus­tralia intends to work with the Unit­ed States to progress efforts to pre­vent long-lived debris-cre­at­ing behav­iour, and devel­op and imple­ment trans­paren­cy and con­fi­dence-build­ing mea­sures for enhanced sta­bil­i­ty and safe­ty in space activ­i­ties.

Dur­ing AUSMIN, Defence Min­is­ter Smith and Defense Sec­re­tary Gates signed a Space Sit­u­a­tion­al Aware­ness Part­ner­ship State­ment of Prin­ci­ples. This Part­ner­ship would fur­ther strength­en already sig­nif­i­cant Australia‑U.S. defence space coop­er­a­tion. The Part­ner­ship would exam­ine oppor­tu­ni­ties to estab­lish and oper­ate sen­sors in Aus­tralia to increase sur­veil­lance of orbital objects pass­ing over the Asia- Pacif­ic region, there­by enabling Aus­tralia to sup­port the Unit­ed States in pro­vid­ing more accu­rate warn­ing of poten­tial col­li­sions in space, and track­ing of objects falling to earth over Aus­tralia or our imme­di­ate region.

Aus­tralia and the Unit­ed States intend to con­tin­ue to grow their his­to­ry of defence space coop­er­a­tion, build­ing upon recent ini­tia­tives such as invest­ment in the US Wide­band Glob­al Satel­lite (WGS) pro­gram and Ultra High Fre­quen­cy com­mu­ni­ca­tions satel­lite shar­ing.

Com­ple­ment­ing this work, Aus­tralia and the Unit­ed States also not­ed the ongo­ing dis­cus­sions on devel­op­ing an Aus­tralia-Unit­ed States Civ­il Space Coop­er­a­tion Frame­work Agree­ment to take the long-stand­ing civ­il space coop­er­a­tion between the two coun­tries to a high­er lev­el, strength­en col­lab­o­ra­tion and pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for ear­ly dis­cus­sions on new devel­op­ments.

Aus­tralia and the Unit­ed States reaf­firmed their com­mit­ment to inten­si­fy space coop­er­a­tion across a range of com­mon inter­ests and decid­ed to review progress in this field at AUSMIN 2011

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia

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