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An Australian Space Agency At Last?

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the up-and-down-under dept.

Space 189

Dante_J writes "In the Australian Federal budget presented last night, as well as big national infrastructure spending, an amount of $48.6 million over four years was allocated for an 'Australian Space Science Program.' Normally a space program is managed by a space agency. Does this now mean that Australia will follow the recommendations of the Senate Space Science report and give up its rather inadequate title of the only top-20 GDP nation not to have one? With nations like Vietnam, Bangladesh and Bulgaria forming or maintaining space agencies, this government infrastructure is obviously not limited to G-20 nations. Discussions to combine Australian and New Zealand airspace have been undertaken; should that translate to aerospace too, and both nations form an ANZAC space agency together?"

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189 comments

obligatory (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27947717)

First post :)

Australian Labor Governments (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27947727)

Have a habit of reannouncing existing spending, just with a new name.

Re:Australian Labor Governments (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27947967)

Unlike the Liberal government, which just pulls existing public spending, sells national assets to their crony mates, burns the cash on useless services and calls it "privatization".

Hello Telstra sale. What did the public get for their money there? A short term tax cut. What did that tax cut cost us? A royal ass fucking from a now unleashed national monopoly.

Thanks Howard, you bushy eyebrowed hobbit.

Re:Australian Labor Governments (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27948235)

quiet down please lefty, you're talking rubbish for god's sake

Re:Australian Labor Governments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27948503)

Thanks Howard, you bushy eyebrowed hobbit.

That, Sir, is an insult to hobbits everywhere.

Re:Australian Labor Governments (0, Troll)

amilo100 (1345883) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948507)

Uhm...

You know that the Labour party creates massive deficits? The current labour government plans a deficit until 2016! You currently have the biggest budget deficit in your history.

I would rather prefer a slightly bungled privatisation than that. Privatisation of state owned/sponsored telecom companies have been through history a major problem (e.g. South Africa's Telkom, split up of AT&T, etc...)

ASP (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27947739)

Kangaroos in space!

g'day mate (-1, Troll)

djupedal (584558) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947751)

Well drag me to hell...what does an island nation, sitting well below the equator, need with a space program anyhow.

It's just a matter of time before they learn to appreciate being surrounded by large bodies of water.

Re:g'day mate (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947789)

Well drag me to hell...what does an island nation, sitting well below the equator, need with a space program anyhow.

How else are we going to get our stroon?

Re:g'day mate (5, Interesting)

InfiniteLoopCounter (1355173) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947823)

Well drag me to hell...what does an island nation, sitting well below the equator, need with a space program anyhow.

Because future technology may come out of space science and astrophysics. Things like GPS and satellite communications are already here now. But to really benefit from advancements, you have to be properly in it.

And then there's the 'prestige' of not having to send people overseas. It's a good thing that space science is getting funded in Australia along side other scientific disciplines and hospitals.

Re:g'day mate (4, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948001)

what does an island nation, sitting well below the equator, need with a space program anyhow
 
Allow me to rephrase the stupid troll's question: What all representative governments should ask before starting a new agency (and therefor cost center) is "what's in it for our taxpayers"? This is a completely valid question.
 
The nation's geographic situation does not come in to this equation except in the question of launch costs. Oh, and when did the continent of Australia get downgraded to island status? I missed that one.

Re:g'day mate (1)

beav007 (746004) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948301)

Precisely. What the hell do we want a Space Agency for?

Australia is an (well actually, "the") island continent. The mainland is the worlds biggest island, and Australia is also the worlds smallest continent.

Re:g'day mate (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27948549)

It's also the only continent with a single country on it.

Re:g'day mate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27948403)

Australia is the worlds largest island and smallest continent. It is also the only country that has a continent all to itself!

Re:g'day mate (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948277)

So, serious answer to a stupid question:

Australia has had a long history in space exploration purely because it's an island on the opposite side of the world to the US and most other space age nations. This includes broadcasting the pictures back from the moon and being a hub for a large number of satellites.

Basically, you can't contact a satellite directly very easily from the US if the satellite is on the other side of the world. Australia's always going to have its place.

Re:g'day mate (5, Informative)

mjwx (966435) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948319)

Well drag me to hell...what does an island nation, sitting well below the equator, need with a space program anyhow.

I know the parent is a troll but...

Using " to indicate degrees as I haven't figured out how to get ./ to render a proper degrees symbol.

Australia's most northern point is 10"41 S (cape york, QLD), the US's most southern point is 18"56 N in Hawaii or 24"33 N on the US mainland (Key West, Fl)

Australia's most northern capital city Darwin, NT is 12"29 S whislt the US's most southern capital city is Florida, FL is 25:46 N

Australia's biggest problem is that it's fairly low lying country but really so is Florida, where Cape Canaveral is located. As I pulled all of this out of Google Earth fairly quickly I don't have avg elevations for NT, QLD and FL.

Not enough (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947757)

Funding of $40.0 million over four years will be available for the establishment of the Australian Space Research Program, which will support space research, innovation and skills development.

Funding of $8.6 million over four years will help establish a Space Policy Unit in the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research to coordinate Australia's national and international civil space activities, including partnerships with international space agencies.

Umm.. yeah. $10 million a year, until the next government gets in and cancels it. That should, umm, do a lot!

Re:Not enough (5, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947845)

The $10 million per year funds development of an advanced, lightweight carbon-fiber device, the Primitive Orbital UNit Cargo Holder, or POUCH. This device is attached to the side of US and Russian launch vehicles, and the Australians can then place tiny rockets and satellites in the POUCH to launch them into orbit. Launch vehicles are recovered using a novel mechanism. Giant steel springs are attached to the bottom of the launch vehicles; after reentering the atmosphere, the vehicles hit the ground, compressing the springs, and the energy is then dissipated as the vehicle bounces across the Australian outback using a hopping motion.

Re:Not enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27948017)

I heard that POUCH would also feature very good thermal insulation against extreme heat and cold.

Re:Not enough (2, Interesting)

kramulous (977841) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948659)

Given that you're a UQ follower, I would have thought you'd be for giving the cash to the scramjet (Hypersonics) lab. Those guys can make little money go a very long way [spacenewsfeed.co.uk]. It would certainly be deserved.

Such a shame the original dude had a stroke. His understudy shows promise though.

Possible NZ Contribution (5, Insightful)

IntentionalStance (1197099) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947765)

I live in NZ and was about to make a disparaging comment about his little nation but instead decided to do a bit of googling and found:
  • Bill Pickering was responsible for Explorer 1 - the first US satellite
  • NZ is participating in the Square Kilometer Array
  • and there's RocketLabs

Just a quick google so I am sure there's lot's more

Re:Possible NZ Contribution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27948013)

It seems unlikely that our current government is going to make a significant contribution to an over-seas science project, remember this is the same government who have slashed the RnD tax credits and believe that economic stimulis is for the weak. Having said that, I'm not sure if they wuld be wrong to do so. New Zealand really has very little to gain from this, if we want to put sattelites in space we can always use the U.S or europes capabilities and we can't exactly afford our own breakthroughs in this prohinitively expensive field.

Re:Possible NZ Contribution (0, Troll)

POds (241854) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948045)

I wonder if this is the start of experimenting with Sheep in space?

Re:Possible NZ Contribution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27948059)

NZ is participating in the Square Kilometer Array

Anything larger and the natives wouldn't have anywhere to stand up.

Re:Possible NZ Contribution (2, Insightful)

auric_dude (610172) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948445)

Bruce Simpson with his home-made cruise missile? Looks like a contribution to me and judging from the fuss it caused http://www.interestingprojects.com/cruisemissile/ [interestingprojects.com] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3302763.stm [bbc.co.uk] http://news.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/07/09/1253201 [slashdot.org] http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/12/09/205252 [slashdot.org] http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/04/29/1857212 [slashdot.org]

Re:Possible NZ Contribution (1)

Maelwryth (982896) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948699)

It went a little further than that;
  President of Caltech University, Thomas Everhart said of him, "More than any other individual, Bill Pickering was responsible for America's success in exploring the planets an endeavour that demanded vision, courage, dedication, expertise and the ability to inspire two generations of scientists and engineers".
There was a good biography for him donated to almost every NZ library by IPENZ last year called William H. Pickering: America's Deep Space Pioneer: America's Deep Space Pioneer [amazon.com].

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27947781)

Its Asspee.. but does it have a "L.A.S.E.R"?

Yeah, but - (4, Funny)

RevWaldo (1186281) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947803)

How are they gonna fire them rockets right-side up?

Re:Yeah, but - (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27947867)

We just unbolt them from the ground and they fall into space.

Re:Yeah, but - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27948429)

Oh my god, I laughed so hard I just choked on my cheese and vegemite sandwich.

Be Serious (1)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947809)

Any practical space program from scratch will cost closer to $50B than $50M.

Re:Be Serious (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947833)

Well, to be fair, they're not talking about launch capability, they're talking about satellite development..

But $40 million over 4 years isn't enough to make one sat and have it launched.

Re:Be Serious (4, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947943)

To put it in perspective, its enough to pay 100 peoples salaries/etc over the four year period. This assumes an average of $100k salary+benefits+overhead per employee, which seems if anything an underestimate for hiring people you'd want running a space program. Put another way, a non-ground-breaking, standard satellite like the ones used for broadcasting XM/Sirius radio in the US cost closer to $300M to build.

Not to say you can't do quite a bit with a small amount of money if applied right... theres certainly some interesting work you could do with autonomy and constellations with microsats that you might be able to do in that cost, particularly if a lot of its contracted out to universities (students are cheap labor).

Still, I find that number awfully low, and it sounds like simply playing politics... making a small thing sound more important than it is. Or maybe its additional funding on top of other things that are already going on.

Re:Be Serious (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947961)

hehe, how do you figure? It's $10m/year.. not $40m/year.

Re:Be Serious (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948003)

$100k/year/person * 100 people = $10M/year.

Am I missing something? Over four years you have enough to pay those people for the same amount of time.

Re:Be Serious (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948043)

You're missing that it's a government agency.. they'll spend more on the director's travel budget than all the other employee's combined.

Re:Be Serious (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948105)

I also didn't mention anything on facilities, furniture, computers, paperwork, power, phone, internet, etc. I was just trying to give a sense of how small that amount of funding is.

Re:Be Serious (2, Insightful)

Mr. Roadkill (731328) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948151)

I also didn't mention anything on facilities, furniture, computers, paperwork, power, phone, internet, etc. I was just trying to give a sense of how small that amount of funding is.

That depends on how they're doing it. If they give money to universities that are already doing something in that area, desks and computers and paperwork and power and internet are already largely paid for and they can plough some of that money into getting the wacademics already there to research and build shiny toys. Plus, universities are sometimes quite good at making use of government money - look what happened at MIT and Stanford and various other places when Licklider and his successors splashed all that ARPA money around in the sixties, and the long-term good that came out of that.

It's all about satellite remote sensing. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27947825)

Australia is heavily involved in a number of satellite remote sensing initiatives. There is currently a push on to get international coordination on satellite sensor specs. I think this is about getting Australia a seat at that table.

You don't need an agency... (1)

gilgoomesh (966411) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947827)

The money is for a "Space Policy Unit in the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research". So they're just going to expand an existing department.

The Australian Government has been funding or co-funding astronomy and satellite development for at least 50 years without needing a dedicated "Australian Space Agency". It doesn't look like they're changing anything here.

Re:You don't need an agency... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947847)

umm.. it's $8.6 million for that, $40 million over 4 years for the Space Agency. Which, frankly, means paper studies and not a lot of them.

Research only = FAIL (1)

nemesisrocks (1464705) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947839)

which will support space research, innovation and skills development

Note, this doesn't include the engineering and development of engines, any sort of space-faring capability, or warp drive.

AU$50m ain't gonna buy you a whole lot of space program.

Re:Research only = FAIL (2, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947975)

Note, this doesn't include the engineering and development of engines, any sort of space-faring capability, or warp drive.

AU$50m ain't gonna buy you a whole lot of space program.

But remember, we're Australians and we're already upside down. The sort of engineering we'll be doing is most likely 'reverse' engineering.

Re:Research only = FAIL (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27948027)

Really? The CSIRO also does "research only", and were the ones that developed all of the wireless technology the world now relies upon. If by "fail" you mean "world-changing technological success" then yes, I agree.

(Of course, the corporate world tried to rip them off by not adhering to their side of the agreement with respect to patents, but that issue has been resolved in the CSIRO's favour.)

No, we won't be launching any manned space expeditions any time soon. However, if the research is well-directed and the funds well utilised, we may yet develop some very useful technologies applicable to space science (presumably these technologies would also have spin-off uses for society at large).

Furthermore, if this space agency does prove itself capable of producing said useful technologies, their funds will surely be boosted in the future.

You can't go from zero to hero at the blink of an eyelid. Nobody is going to pony up $50 billion to give to a group of people who haven't proven they can do anything useful with it. That doesn't mean it should be cancelled. An initial small investment to test the waters and see how it develops is a useful strategy for developing an industry.

Your all or nothing approach is ridiculous when applied to the field of research. If all research grants were at the mercy of people who thought like you, the abacus would still be the most powerful computer in the world.

A.S.S. Program? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27947905)

uh...

Ten Million a Year! (5, Funny)

paulkoan (769542) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947907)

Just enough to fund the committee that will take four years to discuss whether an Agency is necessary.

Re:Ten Million a Year! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#27947921)

And travel for "research" purposes. Do you know that a lot of launch sites are close to good beaches?

Australian Space Science Program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27947929)

Ass-Pee!

As an Australian... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27947993)

As an Australian, my stance on this is the opposite to my usual stance on the subject of collaboration with New Zealand; I would support this, where for other projects I usually wouldn't, because having both countries involved will make it significantly more difficult for either government (and especially the Australian government) to keep details secret or integrate it into the military. I would love for it to start as, and stay, a strictly civilian organization.

I can understand the historical reasons for the early space programs being military in nature; but in modern times there is no excuse; in fact, it's saber-rattling to create such an institution under such a structure.

Re:As an Australian... (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948005)

riiiight. Cause outsourcing our satellite imaging to the americans is just so much more peaceful than doing it ourselves.

 

ANZAC? (5, Funny)

grim-one (1312413) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948009)

"form an ANZAC Space Agency together" So that'd be an Australia and New Zealand Army Corps Space Agency then?

Re:ANZAC? (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948019)

"form an ANZAC Space Agency together" So that'd be an Australia and New Zealand Army Corps Space Agency then?

Thats not going to end well [wikipedia.org] you know.

Re:ANZAC? (2, Funny)

seyyah (986027) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948217)

"form an ANZAC Space Agency together" So that'd be an Australia and New Zealand Army Corps Space Agency then?

Thats not going to end well you know.

Be extremely careful. You are about to subject us all to some teary-eyed Aussie reciting the line how it was all the fault of the British general who couldn't tell time and sent those brave ANZACs to their deaths in Simla Bay at 5 past ten instead of 10 past five. And he'll be humming the Walzing Mathilda all the while.
 
None of us want this. So just lay off on how they bungled Gallipoli and we'll all be the better for it.

Re:ANZAC? (1)

passiveNecro (1070344) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948057)

ANZAC has been used to describe co-operation between AU and NZ fairly regularly for as long as I can remember. That said ANZSA could work.

Re:ANZAC? (1)

grim-one (1312413) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948185)

ANZAC has been used to describe co-operation between AU and NZ fairly regularly for as long as I can remember. That said ANZSA could work.

I'm fairly sure ANZAC is only used when referring to forms of military co-operation

Re:ANZAC? (1)

passiveNecro (1070344) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948203)

we just had an ANZAC rugby league test which while the same month as ANZAC day is certainly not on ANZAC day. You are probably right that in an official/government capacity it is kept for military co-operation.

Only$10 Million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27948015)

$10 million a year should be just enough to establish a bunch of administrators and facilitators and co-ordinators to run a Space Program if anyone ever decides to have one.
Don't think they'll be taking Woomera out of mothballs for a while yet.

Considering how much debt we took on (3, Insightful)

Jacques Chester (151652) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948023)

I'm guessing "no".

My understanding is that this is part of the Defence Whitepaper's plan for Australia to develop orbital remote sensing that doesn't rely on asking the USA very nicely if we could please have some photos.

That much is pretty much safe from budget cuts in future. But everything else except pensions is now up for grabs. I know it's a recession blah blah blah but they just put in a $58 billion dollar deficit for this year alone, plus more to come. But it's OK, because Treasury predictions (which have NEVER been accurate) say that all the debt will all be paid off by unicorns and pixie dollars when GDP growth snaps up to 4.5% in a few years time.

When, inevitably, that does not happen, everything that's not discussable on talkback radio (like space science) will get fucked. The CSIRO will scraping along on patent money in just a few years from now, you watch.

Re:Considering how much debt we took on (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948071)

The labor government understands that national debt is the new colonialism.

Just look at the US.

why? (2, Insightful)

Slurpee (4012) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948031)

I'm an Aussie. I love space.

But really - I'm quite happy to let the USA (and other countries) spend the money on space. It needs to be done. It's good it's being done. But for the time being - I'm happy to sit and watch.

Of course - if we think we can make this a commercially sound venture - go for your life.

Re:why? (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948289)

Glad you asked.

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1369/1 [thespacereview.com]

"As the report says "The ADF's primary operational environment is a vast area. We need to have comprehensive situational awareness and an ability to operate within this environment with decisive military effect, if required." This means that Australia must have a fairly comprehensive set of space-based assets, not just communications and imaging satellites but eventually, at a minimum, GPS augmentation and electronic intelligence gathering spacecraft."

Re:why? (1)

Slurpee (4012) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948305)

We need it for defence? dang.

Re:why? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948361)

We basically just beg the americans for everything at the moment. If they cut off our surveillance imaging we just don't have any options.

Re:why? (1)

Slurpee (4012) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948407)

We basically just beg the americans for everything at the moment. If they cut off our surveillance imaging we just don't have any options.

Google maps? Ok - maybe not.

Re:why? (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948353)

It's never going to be commercially sound, not at this stage. Space is still pretty much at the pure research stage; the benefits will be long-term. But make no mistake, they will be there, and for all humanity; any nation with a sense of internationalism ought to try and do its bit. (That doesn't mean putting the same things in space as everyone else just for the sake of it; that means collaboration, and doing the small missions which nevertheless haven't been done so far)

ANZSA (3, Interesting)

POds (241854) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948041)

The Australian New Zealand Army Corp Space Agency?

I'd prefer ANZSA - sounds like answer (in an aussie ascent)

You ask it, they find it!

Gullible (0, Troll)

Joebert (946227) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948083)

If there were one nation on Earth gullible enough to see a staged moon landing on TV and buy it hook-line-and-sinker, it would be Australia, bless their hearts.

Maybe that's why they don't have a "space program", the "astronauts" thought it was just too easy.

A Moment (2, Funny)

dark grep (766587) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948125)

That is going to buy a heck of a lot of Mentos and Diet Pepsi, even after you take out the International Expert consulting fee from the Mythbusters.

About time ... (3, Funny)

golodh (893453) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948157)

An Australian Space Agency? So they are finally going to explore the Outback? About time too !

austranauts? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948167)

Shouldn't they be oztranauts? Or even ozznauts? (ozz-nots rather... I mean... given the budget...)

Good first step. (1)

DavidKlemke (1048264) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948197)

An Australian Space Science program is great first step to getting Australia involved in space but for the most part I'll bet that it will rely on either currently deployed satellites and probes or will piggy back onto other's work. Whilst we might be a resource rich country we don't have the spare cash to invest in a fully fledged space program.

We might see a couple Australian experiments going along for a ride with the big wigs of space (Russia and the USA) but I wouldn't expect much more then that for a long, long time. It's a real shame since we have so much spare room for testing experimental rockets and the like.

It could be a great stepping stone for aspiring Australian astronauts and space researchers to get into other programs. We already ship a lot of our talent overseas why not our aeronautical people to! :P

Kangaroo's in space.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27948239)

Ever tried to wrangle a kangaroo?

New World Record (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27948263)

Nice. NZ will become the first country without an air force to get a space program. You know we don't have any planes, right?

Re:New World Record (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948515)

Nice. NZ will become the first country without an air force to get a space program.

You mean.. besides the Royal New Zealand Airforce [airforce.mil.nz]?

You know we don't have any planes, right?

Apparently you don't know you have any planes.

And the first drongo that mentions Stroon!... (4, Funny)

ScottZ (14863) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948323)

As (possibly ;-) ) heard in a pub recently...

"Look. Its not a foolproof plan but its still pretty bloody awesome. The pollies and their gready wanker mates have ruined the planet. Our country might cop it up the arse harder than any other poor bastard. So, we go with their grandiose bloody scheme and when it comes time for them to bugger off, we create a diversion, give 'em space suits with dodgy visors and pack 'em into a welded-up bus with lox flowing down the sides and pull the lever on a bloody big rubber band! Voosh! Hello Great Southern Bight!

Then we can grab ours beers, our horses, dogs, sheep, cats and sheilas and piss off in the real one. Waddya reckon?..."

Space Science != Space Program(s) != Space Agency (4, Informative)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948329)

The following is fairly negative, but is posed honestly, not as flamebait, troll or other such nonsense.

It seems to be becoming a standard /. format to raise a topic, pose a question, and then proceed to discuss the issue and/or raise more questions as though the answer to the first was affirmative. The result is something that looks like it belongs in Ask Slashdot, and makes sense mostly if you read it while nodding vigorously. The real answers to the questions could often be found by doing some real research on the subject, but that doesn't happen as it would disrupt the chain of wishful thinking. The same could be said of locating information disproving the imaginary thesis, but that's even less likely to occur.

Space science encompasses pretty much anything that goes on over that magical 100 km altitude, even studying things up there from down here as well as technology associated with such work. $10M/year could fund your traditionally fine radio telescope program. It could as easily apply to using that hardware to support a space based radio-location (ie. GPS) program or even satellite relayed telecommunications. $10M/year might be able to get stretched to develop a sounding rocket if you scrimped by using something like Indonesia's sugar based solid fuel motors. It could also get swallowed whole easily maintaining your existing launch sites and related infrastructure. $40M would cover the initial training of a shuttle mission specialist but not the technical training for a specific mission. Many space related projects could be funded by the budgeted amount, except a "space program", taken to mean something like an Aussie spam-in-a-can riding into the black in an Aussie capsule on top an Aussie booster -- a home grown manned space flight program. Ain't gonna happen for that amount. That amount over 4 years might be able to fund the development of an administration and engineering group capable of doing something like that at some later date for a much greater amount. Given such an organization, that amount/time frame could go to make good progress on the proposed Ausroc LCLV, but almost certainly not enough to finish it.

Australia has a decent record of booster and payload/program development and execution without having burdened itself with a top heavy centralized administration. Sites have been operating quite well on an independent basis. For instance, Woomera has operated 15 pads and launched well over 500 missions in the past half century without a hint of need for an oversight agency. It's fairly inactive now but could wind back up if needed for the Ausroc or similar projects. Other sites have similar records, and the cumulative national record is impressive (see http://www.astronautix.com/country/ausralia.htm [astronautix.com] ). It ain't broke. Don't fix it. Have the sense not to replicate programs long since superseded elsewhere, such as early (ie. Mercury and Gemini) NASA, when one could obtain far more for the money via partnering with present day US or Russian programs. Sure, you could develop a manned program, or you could put that money to better use and get more out of it, as you have been all along.

And please do your homework so you can jump past the leading questions rhetoric and approach it from a position that lends to more fruitful discussion. If the quoted figures are your actual budget, then it was discussed and voted on. That means your own representative politicritter was at least peripherally involved, and an inquiry in their direction could well provide much more solid information (or at least proposed intentions) than the referenced vagaries and attached hypotheticals.

Finally, a piece of synchronicity. As I was writing this the following fortune/tagline was at the bottom of the page: "Mitchell's Law of Committees: Any simple problem can be made insoluble if enough meetings are held to discuss it."

Re:Space Science != Space Program(s) != Space Agen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27948525)

Don't worry everybody, I didn't bother reading all that either.

Re:Space Science != Space Program(s) != Space Agen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27948635)

Holy cow.... are your fingers sore???

So... (1)

wfWebber (715881) | more than 4 years ago | (#27948401)

Since we already have an International Space Station (ISS), we now can have an Australion Space Station aswell? Cool!
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