The U.S. and Australia recently agreed to cooperate on future space-surveillance projects, including tracking satellites and space debris. In an e-mail interview, Kirk Woellert, a U.S. government liaison and analyst for Interorbital Systems, discussed U.S.-Australia cooperation on space surveillance.
WPR: What is the current status of bilateral space cooperation?
Kirk Woellert: The U.S. and Australia have enjoyed a long history of both civil and national-security cooperation in space. On the civil side, cooperative agreements have been in place to conduct activities such as deep-space tracking, earth observation and high-altitude balloon flights. The Parkes Radio Observatory and the Honeysuckle Creek station near Canberra, Australia, were two of three (.pdf) deep-space tracking stations that enabled more than 600 million people to view the televised broadcast of Neil Armstrong taking the first steps on the moon. NASA has launched sounding rockets from Australia at the Woomera Test Range since the mid-1960s. National-security space cooperation between the U.S. and Australia previously focused on (.pdf) agreements for intelligence-data sharing involving signals intelligence starting in World War II. The new agreement on space security was an outcome of the annual Australia-United States Ministerial (AUSMIN) consultations, from which a Joint Statement on Space Security was released. The statement acknowledges that the U.S. and Australia share "a deep concern the space environment is becoming increasingly congested and contested."