New partnership to facilitate sharing of space situational awareness information


Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States have signed a defence cooperation agreement on combined space operations.

Image credit: flickr User: Andrew Weedall
Image credit: flickr User: Andrew Weedall

According to the media release by Minister for Defence David Johnston, the new partnership underlines the close defence cooperation between the four countries and will ensure the sharing of space-related information and resources so that the partners’ space operations are synchronised.

The partnership is also set to raise space environment awareness.

“Assured access to space is increasingly important, not only for national security purposes, but also for many technologies that underpin modern economies and daily life, including stock exchange and credit card transactions, weather and climate monitoring, natural disaster warning, communications and navigation,” said Senator Johnston.

“At the same time, the increasing congestion in space from over 50 years of space activities and a significant rise in space debris present a rising threat to our assured access to space.”

According to the article on Defence News, the partnership lays the groundwork for an international version of the Pentagon’s Joint Space Operations Centre (JSpOC), allowing for a more effective and coordinated use of space capabilities through cooperation during operations such as identifying and understanding what objects are in space, ensuring uninterrupted satellite operations and avoiding satellite collisions.

The cooperation is set to contribute for establishing a safer and more secure space environment, while also enhancing mutual security.

“Space is also crucial to our respective national securities with space-based capabilities providing our armed forces with the ability to operate and communicate around the globe and unparallelled understanding of the space environment,” said Senator Walker.

“The partnership demonstrates the continued dedication and strong commitment of the partners to encouraging the responsible and peaceful use of space for all.”

Brian Weeden, technical advisor for Secure World Foundation — a private operating foundation that promotes cooperative solutions for space sustainability and the peaceful uses of outer space, said that governments had been working toward this plan since a 2010 war game at Schriever Air Force Base in the US, which hosted representatives from the allied nations.

“The significance is that there is the recognition that [the US] can’t do it alone,” he said.

“We are going to need closer cooperation with our closest allies — we, the US government — in order to accomplish our goals.”