Defence has confirmed its much-anticipated Space Division will launch in early 2022, and be headquartered within the RAAF.
It was also revealed that Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mel Hupfeld, will become the Defence Space Domain lead, overseeing a division that will also work with personnel from the Army and Navy.
“We use space daily for understanding the weather, navigating, access to geospatial information and sharing information across Australia or across the world,” AIRMSHL Hupfeld said.
“Defence is delivering capabilities including space domain awareness, sovereign controlled satellite communications and space-based Earth observation, and navigation.
“The government has committed to significantly increasing investment in Defence’s space capabilities by investing around $7 billion this decade to ensure our access to space, space services and geospatial information.
“Defence will need capabilities that directly contribute to outcomes in space as a contested domain, however, this does not mean that Defence encourages the militarisation of space.
“All space operations are conducted consistent with international and domestic legal obligations.”
Defence also confirmed the appointment of Air Vice-Marshal Catherine Roberts as the new Head of the Space Division.
“To reach for the stars and actually get there is a phenomenal feeling,” said AVM Roberts. “As an aero-space engineer I have always been fascinated by space – the ultimate high-ground.”
AIRMSHL Hupfeld said there was “no person better suited to the job”.
AVM Roberts is currently responsible for conceptualising and shaping the future requirements for the Air Force. Her 30-year career has included stints as Head Aerospace Systems Division – responsible for acquiring and sustaining fixed-wing assets – and a period overseeing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
AVM Roberts graduated from No. 28 Course Engineering Cadet Squadron in 1986, and completed her first posting as a maintenance engineering officer supporting flight test on CT4, PC-9, DC-3, Iroquois, Squirrel, Blackhawks, Mirage, Macchi, and F-111s at the Aircraft Research and Development unit.
Meanwhile, AIRMSHL Hupfeld is currently overseeing a space domain review, which includes plans for a space command that, unlike the US, will be a collaboration between Army, Navy and RAAF rather than an entirely separate entity.
The announcement comes as RAAF uses its centenary year to drive through reforms, which began with the organisation revealing it will replace the term ‘airmen’ with ‘aviators’.