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posted by janrinok on Tuesday February 14 2017, @11:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the turning-space-upside-down dept.

They're piping out our space data!

Any nation that hopes to have a space program needs to be able to keep an eye on its orbiting assets at all times. This means that Australia has become a key link in the global chain of ground-based tracking stations.

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has a deep space tracking facility at Tidbinbilla in the ACT, managed by the CSIRO, and the European Space Agency (ESA) has one in New Norcia, Western Australia. The New Norcia station plays a further role as it picks up and tracks the ESA launches from French Guiana as they curve across the Indian Ocean on their way to Earth orbit or beyond.

This means that Australia plays a critical role in many other countries' space programs. Right now, about 40 space missions – including deep space planetary explorers, Mars rovers, solar observatories and astronomical space observatories – are routinely downlinking their data through radio dishes on Australian soil. This uniquely acquired data is then piped out of the country to the eagerly waiting US and European scientific communities, bypassing our own.

If Australia is to capitalise on its strengths in space tracking as well as space science, and is to get on board with the burgeoning commercial space industry, it's time that we considered forming a space agency of our own.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Australian Space Agency Gets $50 Million in Seed Funding 12 comments

Australia's long talked about space agency may come into existence soon:

The government will set aside $50m to fund Australia's first dedicated space agency, according to senior insiders. The ABC on Thursday reported that funding for the space agency was guaranteed in the budget on Tuesday. It is understood $50m will be given to the fledgling agency as "seed funding", with the intention that the majority of the agency's funding will come from the private sector.

Megan Clark, a former head of the [Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)] who this year completed a comprehensive review of Australia's space sector, will lead the agency, the ABC reported.

Prof Alan Duffy, an astrophysicist at Swinburne University, said the agency would be primarily focused on research and economic development. "Rather than putting people into space, it will be focused on creating jobs for those people on earth," he said. "Space is a global sector worth some $420bn and grows faster than China's economy – it's something we want to be a part of. The aim is to develop commercial opportunities so Australian start-ups and companies gain access to this very valuable sector."

There are already space-related start-ups in Australia, but the government hopes to boost Australia's share of the growing global space market from 0.8% to 1.8%.

Also at Science Magazine.

See also: Australia is late to the space agency party, but that's not necessarily a bad thing


Original Submission

UNSW Canberra Opens Space Mission Design Facility 7 comments

UNSW Canberra opens Australia's first space mission design facility

Australia's first national space mission design facility was officially opened today by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr at UNSW Canberra.

UNSW Canberra Space director Russell Boyce says the new Australian National Concurrent Design Facility (ANCDF) complements Australian National University's spacecraft test facilities and means Canberra now has the capability to develop space missions from start to finish.

"For the first time, Australia has a facility that will enable spacecraft design engineers and scientists to rapidly design and determine the technical and economic viability of proposed space missions," Professor Boyce said.

"Just yesterday, we announced the successful launch into orbit of our first cube satellite, 'Buccaneer', which was developed jointly with scientists from Defence Science Technology (DST). This is the first of many UNSW Canberra missions.

Previously: Is It Time for Australia to Launch its Own Space Agency?
Australia to Create its Own National Space Agency


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 4, Informative) by c0lo on Tuesday February 14 2017, @11:40PM

    by c0lo (156) on Tuesday February 14 2017, @11:40PM (#467158)

    This means that Australia plays a critical role in many other countries' space programs. Right now, about 40 space missions – including deep space planetary explorers, Mars rovers, solar observatories and astronomical space observatories – are routinely downlinking their data through radio dishes on Australian soil. This uniquely acquired data is then piped out of the country to the eagerly waiting US and European scientific communities, bypassing our own.

    The only strength Australia has in spacetracking is the fact that it is situated on a landmass conveniently located down-under**. If it is to open its own space agency, not only it will need a launching site closer to the Equator, but also some tracking facilities in the up-above - which will make them dependent critically dependent on facilities in other countries.

    I'm not saying that Australia doesn't need a space agency on its own (nor I am saying it does), just that the argument in the TFS is sorta dumb.

    ---
    ** add to this large areas sparsely populated - less EM noise caused by the presence of civilization.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by butthurt on Wednesday February 15 2017, @12:00AM

      by butthurt (6141) on Wednesday February 15 2017, @12:00AM (#467170) Journal

      If it is to open its own space agency, not only it will need a launching site closer to the Equator [...]

      Canada has its own space agency; launches are done from its facility at almost 60 degrees north latitude, or from other countries (Kazahstan, Russia, USA, India).

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Space_Agency [wikipedia.org]
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Churchill_%28rocket_launch_site%29 [wikipedia.org]

      Bramble Cay, the northernmost point in Australia, lies at about 9 degrees south latitude.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bramble_Cay [wikipedia.org]

      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday February 15 2017, @12:09AM

        by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday February 15 2017, @12:09AM (#467172)

        > Bramble Cay, the northernmost point in Australia, lies at about 9 degrees south latitude.

        As long as the neighbors' capital downrange doesn't mind getting hit by the occasional stowaway drop bear, it's a great launching latitude.

        • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Wednesday February 15 2017, @04:18AM

          by MostCynical (2589) on Wednesday February 15 2017, @04:18AM (#467230)

          Usually only people in tents get hit by drop bears, so shouldn't be too much of a problem.
          On the other hand, falling from sufficient height *would* make them a bit less accurate.

          --
          (Score: tau, Irrational)
          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday February 15 2017, @08:14AM

            by c0lo (156) on Wednesday February 15 2017, @08:14AM (#467287)

            On the other hand, falling from sufficient height *would* make them a bit less accurate.

            Yeah, hear, hear...
            I fell only from a hammock and my accuracy is no longer what it used to be. And I wasn't even in a tent when it happened.

        • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Wednesday February 15 2017, @11:12AM

          by butthurt (6141) on Wednesday February 15 2017, @11:12AM (#467326) Journal

          > As long as the neighbors' capital downrange doesn't mind [...]

          Port Moresby is almost directly to the east, isn't it. Well, PNG was part of Australia until 1975; it serve the Australian Space Agency the way Kazakhstan serves Roscosmos. Manus Island is only 2 degrees south of the equator and there's nothing of any consequence to the east of it. No headaches for the ASA!

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday February 15 2017, @12:41AM

        by c0lo (156) on Wednesday February 15 2017, @12:41AM (#467175)

        True, but my point still stands... Australia will still need tracking facilities (or services) located in northern hemisphere

        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15 2017, @01:47AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15 2017, @01:47AM (#467190)

          So kind of reciprocal with the current arrangements?

          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday February 15 2017, @05:59AM

            by c0lo (156) on Wednesday February 15 2017, @05:59AM (#467252)

            Yes. But this is to demonstrate that the present time is as good as any others (i.e. it's not a "now or never" type of opportunity)

        • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday February 15 2017, @05:58PM

          by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday February 15 2017, @05:58PM (#467492)

          How hard can that be? They can just partner up with Japan and Canada.

    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday February 15 2017, @03:11AM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 15 2017, @03:11AM (#467204) Journal

      Other nations capitalize on less meaningful happenstances. Oz might as well join in the fun, right?

      --
      Hawking believes that alien life forms will likely be simple and primitive, or, as they’re known on Earth, Democrats.
      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday February 15 2017, @05:57AM

        by c0lo (156) on Wednesday February 15 2017, @05:57AM (#467251)

        I'd be so much happier if the Oz govt would subsidize battery research. The outback would be much better.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15 2017, @12:02AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15 2017, @12:02AM (#467171)

    1. More transgender bathrooms
    2. Need better beer, and more
    3. Hairy nosed wombats

    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15 2017, @12:31AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15 2017, @12:31AM (#467174)

      If you improve the beer, then I guarantee you'll find multiple genders in the same bathroom (indeed, in the very same stall!).

      Moreover, people will become so chill, that their lowered productivity will allow the wombat's natural habitat to make a come back.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15 2017, @01:15AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15 2017, @01:15AM (#467185)

    About the only thing the Aussie have for space exploration is a large uninhibited territory to catch falling debris, sorta like mini Russia, except that even Russia has more people than Australia.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15 2017, @06:04AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 15 2017, @06:04AM (#467254)

      The Russian monkeys started much earlier in their frozen lands than the British ones down-under, I think.
      Meanwhile, the civilized people here were beyond material, deep into the dreamtime.

  • (Score: 4, Funny) by arslan on Wednesday February 15 2017, @01:38AM

    by arslan (3462) on Wednesday February 15 2017, @01:38AM (#467189)

    We can't even launch our own broadband....