Australia’s ambassador to the US, Joe Hockey, signed the Space Tracking Treaty on behalf of Australia, with the acting administrator of NASA, Robert Lightfoot, signing on behalf of the US, at a ceremony at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC.
The treaty covers civil space facilities owned by NASA and located within Australia, including the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla, as well as facilities in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Acting Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator Michaelia Cash, said Australia continued to play a major role in NASA's exploration of space.
“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 US 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.”
Senator Cash said the treaty remained the foundation for a continued co-operative programme between Australia and the US.
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”.
And 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.
“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.”