International cooperation and relationships are key to the success of almost any space endeavour. In a globalised world, space technologies and services are increasingly being used to support international efforts to tackle global issues such as climate change, and can see longstanding relationships reap mutual benefits.
The Australian Government engages internationally in many ways. Below are the key space-related cooperation mechanisms.
Treaties and Agreements
The Australian Government is a party to the major United Nations space-related treaties, including the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.
Bilateral cooperative arrangements have been in place with many countries for up to fifty years, and often involve the provision or sharing of ground facilities, for example with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA), and the wider international astronomy community.
Multinational Agreements also allow Australia to obtain data from the Aqua and Terra satellites to provide near-real-time information on the location of active fires at a national level through the Sentinel Hotspots system.
For more information on Australia's international agreements, please visit our Treaties and Agreements page.
The Australian Government engages in multilateral fora including the following.
International Astronautical Federation (IAF)
The International Astronautical Federation (IAF) is the world’s leading space advocacy body with over 270 members, including all key space agencies, companies, societies, associations and institutes across 62 countries. Through the Space Coordination Office, the Australian Government is a member of this body.
Every year, the IAF together with the International Academy of Astronautics and the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), holds the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) which is hosted by one of the national society members of the IAF.
UN Committee on the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS)
The Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) was set up by the United Nations General Assembly in 1959 to review the scope of international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space, to devise programmes in this field to be undertaken under United Nations auspices, to encourage continued research and the dissemination of information on outer space matters, and to study legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space. Including Australia, there are 74 member States in the Committee.
The Australian Government, through the Space Coordination Office, participates in the activities of the Committee and is currently co-chair of an expert group working on issues related to the long term sustainability of outer space activities.
Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF)
The Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) is a network of government officials from the region with an interest in space-derived data. The Australian Government, through the Space Coordination Office participates in this forum and leads the Climate R3 (Regional, Readiness and Review) initiative.
Climate R3 proposes a partnership of space agencies in the region with traditional space agencies, such as NASA and ESA, in order to improve the supply of critical space data to regional countries in support of climate information needs.
In the very late evening of Sunday 13 June 2010, Australia played an integral part in a major space exploration project, with the successful and safe return of the Japanese spacecraft, Hayabusa, to Earth after a seven year journey.
If you have a domestic or international query about Australian Government space activities, please contact the Department of Industry and Science.