When Prime Minister Scott Morrison sits down with US President Donald Trump, he’ll be talking trade, security, China and also space.
Australia’s space sector is booming, and Australia has a longstanding relationship with NASA dating back to the dawn of the US space program and the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 70s.
Australia also has a growing strategic space relationship with the US, which is now standing up its Space Command to oversee US military space activities.
In his statement confirming the long-anticipated trip to the US, Mr Morrison specifically mentioned space among his planned engagements.
He said the Australia-US economic partnership was more than just trade.
“I will visit the NASA headquarters and welcome greater US-Australia cooperation on space and other cutting-edge science and technology initiatives,” he said.
Mr Morrison will be in the US from 19-27 September, visiting Washington, Chicago and New York.
“It was an honour to accept President Trump’s generous invitation for an official visit with a state dinner at the White House,” he said.
“I look forward to meeting again with President Trump and members of his Cabinet, including Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Esper to discuss how we can further strengthen our alliance and already close partnership.”
Does that mean the PM and US President will talk space over dinner? Maybe it does, as this is an area of strong and enduring cooperation.
Every day, the deep space communications complex outside Canberra, the Australian end of NASA’s global space tracking network, communicates with NASA and other missions far out in space.
Australia will certainly be involved in tracking NASA’s return to the noon in 2024, and after that, the ventures to Mars.
Mr Morrison said there is deeper friendship than that between Australia and the United States.
“We see the world through the same eyes, with shared values and a deep commitment to promoting peace, liberty and prosperity,” he said.
“This visit will be a valuable opportunity to further strengthen our security and economic partnership.”
Mr Morrison said the alliance was stronger than ever, a partnership first forged on the battlefield when we Australians and Americans fought alongside each other at the Battle of Hamel in 1918.
“Since then, we have stood side by side in every major conflict since the First World War – in the defence of freedom, liberty and democracy,” he said.
“Our economic partnership is just as strong, and this visit will further strengthen it. The United States is Australia’s largest economic partner.
“Investment between our two nations is worth more than $1.2 trillion, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs.”
Mr Morrison said “the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement was a shining example of our shared commitment to economic growth and prosperity – with two-way trade growing by almost 60 per cent since the agreement was signed”.
He said that during the trip, he would meet young Australian tech entrepreneurs working in the Midwest and businessmen in New York.
“I also look forward to taking the opportunity while in the United States for this official visit to engage with our other partners at the 74th regular Session of the General Assembly at the United Nations,” he said.
“I will deliver Australia’s national statement and advance Australia’s interests in the protection of the oceans and preventing terrorist use of the internet.”
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