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Casey DreierFebruary 19, 2018

An Interplanetary Mateship: The Planetary Society Continues our Australian Initiative

An update on our ongoing support for Australian efforts to build its space program

The Planetary Society has always been a global organization with members in over 100 countries. But thanks to recent investments by our members in The Society’s Space Policy & Advocacy program, we now have the resources to institute a strategic effort to support the exploration of space in an international context.

In 2017, Australia was a major focus. We leveraged the presence of the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide to increase our engagement with the Australian government and our members in-country.

Prior to the IAC, CEO Bill Nye gave a keynote speech at the Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C., regarding the importance of national investment in space exploration. Our policy staff also served as a resource to the government during the development of the new Australian space agency.

At the IAC in Adelaide, Bill delivered a keynote speech on our LightSail spacecraft and then toured the country meeting with members of parliament and scientists to discuss space science and exploration.

Our year-long engagement with Australia had generated great relationships and broad visibility. How could we turn that into sustained excitement among the Australian public?

Australian Delegates at The Planetary Society - The Space Advocate

The American Australian Leadership Dialogue came by The Planetary Society headquarters as part of a tour that also included NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and SpaceX. Australia has just kicked off their own space program and The Planetary Society is honored to offer guidance and support.

Enter the Australian American Leadership Dialogue (AALD). The AALD is a private diplomatic initiative that works to strengthen the bilateral relationship between the United States and Australia through fostering and promoting dialogue among leaders in government, enterprise, media, education, and science in the two countries.

Encouraged by the Australian excitement following the announcement of their new space agency, the AALD asked The Planetary Society to be part of a dialogue aimed at promoting awareness of space science and exploration issues, and also to share strategies for engaging the Australian public.

On a day that included stops at both NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and SpaceX, a delegation of more than thirty Australian leaders – members of State and Federal Parliament, former ambassadors, presidents of universities, and industry leaders – visited Planetary Society headquarters. Together we discussed how the Society can be a resource for Australia as it continues to make major investments in its space capabilities, and also how we can help to increase Australian public excitement about space exploration.

The resources that our members provide to us enabled this meaningful engagement. Our dialogue with Australia over the past year has already opened the door to a number of exciting opportunities that simply wouldn’t have been possible without an organized international engagement strategy and the support of our members.

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Casey Dreier

Director of Space Policy for The Planetary Society
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