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Australia and the United States sign historic space treaty

18 October 2017

In Washington this morning the Turnbull Government signed a treaty with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), reaffirming a commitment made by Australia and the United States of America more than 50 years ago to collaborate on space exploration.

Ambassador Joe Hockey signed the historic Space Tracking Treaty on behalf of Australia, with the Acting Administrator of NASA, Robert Lightfoot Jr, signing on behalf of the USA at a ceremony at the Australian Embassy in Washington D.C.

The Space Tracking Treaty covers civil space facilities owned by NASA and located within Australia, including the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) at Tidbinbilla, as well as facilities in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Acting Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Michaelia Cash, said Australia continued to play a major role in NASA's exploration of space.

“The signing of this treaty comes at a very important time in the development of the space industry in Australia given the Turnbull Government’s commitment to establish a national space agency,” Minister Cash said.

“Australia plays an integral part in space vehicle tracking having assisted in almost all of NASA’s human and robotic missions to space.”

“Our space collaboration with the United States of America began in 1957 with the establishment of a radio tracking facility in Woomera and was formalised in 1960 with the signing of a bi-lateral treaty on space vehicle tracking.”

“This treaty remains the foundation for a continued cooperative program between Australia and the United States.”

Mr Lightfoot said Australia’s contribution to NASA's exploration of space over the decades had been immense and the treaty signing would ensure this long and close relationship would continue.

CSIRO Chief Executive, Larry Marshall, said he was delighted with the signing of the treaty and the sharing of knowledge that will arise from this opportunity.

“For more than 50 years, CSIRO has been proud to be one of NASA’s homes in the Southern Hemisphere, leveraging our geography and sharing in the world-class capabilities of our scientists,” Mr Marshall said.

“From humanity’s first steps on the Moon, to flying past Pluto, to Cassini’s recent descent into Saturn, CSIRO and NASA have partnered to not only see more deeply into our Universe, but inspire the next generation of scientists.”

Media Contact: Minister Cash's office 02 6277 7320