The 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide provides the host, Australia, with a grandstand for an announcement about its spacefaring intentions. It is under pressure to launch an Australian Space Agency.
Whether the host country takes the plunge hinges in part on the persuasiveness of Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA) and other proponents of a full-fledged Australian space programme. They foresee business opportunities, among other benefits.
A replay of the Cassini mission can be expected among the presentations from space agency heads, astronauts and business leaders at the event billed as the world's largest annual space industry gathering. The presentations will also include tributes to the 60th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik and the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Outer Space Treaty.
SIAA and Australian network ABC point out that an Australian space programme could tap into the business opportunities presented by the rapidly-growing space sector.
Proponents point out that the country already plays a crucial role in the space programmes of many other countries: some 40 space missions - including deep space planetary explorers, Mars rovers, solar observatories and astronomical space observatories - routinely downlink their data through radio dishes on Australian soil. NASA and the European Space Agency have deep-space tracking facilities in Australia, and these downlink facilities are now being actively "geared up" for the global push to Mars.
Date written/update: 2017-05-05