Australia and international space law

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Despite its early space legacy, a lack of tangible government action after the 1970s meant that Australia failed to retain its place in the 'space world' in the following decades. A period of ‘bureaucratic inertia' took hold, and the government ignored a number of opportunities to expand Australia's research and commercial involvement in space, just as others were seizing upon the potential (and need) to do so. Whatever steps it did take in this period were only half-hearted. For example, the government did establish an Australian Office in 1987, but this was underfunded and lacked real political support during its operation, and was eventually disbanded in 1996. Things seemed to change again, however, in the late 1990s, when the government began to consider seriously the potential for the establishment of a significant national commercial space launch industry. As the international commercial launch industry became more competitive during that decade, several private overseas consortia sought to explore the possibility of providing commercial satellite launches from Australia. Given the historical reluctance of the government to encourage the development of a large-scale domestic space launch vehicle system, these projects were largely conceived as being consistent with the need to 'import' launch vehicle and associated technology as the foundation to allow for the development of a domestic launch industry. Largely in response to this private sector interest in the development of a launch industry in Australia, in December 1998, the government passed the Space Activities Act 1998 (Cth), thereby becoming only the sixth country (at the time) to introduce specific domestic legislation directed towards space activities. Prior to this, there had been no existing Australian legislative regulatory framework that specifically applied to 'national' space activities, particularly launch activities from Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Law in Australia
EditorsD. R. Rothwell, E. Crawford
Place of PublicationPyrmont, N.S.W.
PublisherThomson Reuters
ISBN (Print)9780455228310
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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