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RAAF’s Space Division to launch in 2022, says Defence

written by Adam Thorn | May 19, 2021

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’.

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Comments (3)

  • What a lot of crap, airmen are airmen, aviators are pilots, look at the dictionary it’s a pilot. My late son a FA18 pilot was an aviator. Who ever made this decision, was either under the influance of booze or in another world. I was an airman Warrant Officer, not a darn aviator. RAAF grow up and read the dictionary. After 23 years Service, I say what a lot of crap, by officer who has not been off the bitumem. Get with it, do a bit of home work. From a true airman.

    Ciao John ex WOFF Police. EMAIL [email protected]

    • Doug Bright


      Well said, John, as a pilot (and hence an aviator) it’s a distinction I have long been aware and proud of.

      I’m intrigued as to why an increasingly PC military would go out of their way to lead with their chin on this issue, too, for it’s obvious to even the mentally-diminished that the next step by some PC pencil-neck with too much time on their hands will be to challenge the connotation of “airmen” as implying an exclusively male domain and that this state of affairs must be “rectified” by the addition of yet another apocryphal torturing of the English language to include “air-women” too.

      As there seems to be no end to this current trend to overlook the bleeding obvious, that Man or Men implies “Mankind” which embraces both genders but which in this context refers specifically to neither one, we must expect that this will be the logical outcome and will be about as execrable a term as “personhole covers” in our streets and . sidewalks or “waitpersons” in our restaurants. It’s time to buck the trend.

  • hsfgh


    $7Billion. Now if only there was that sort of money to spend on luxuries in the health or education department. Or even pay off some debt.

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