Australia's catch-up in the space arms race will focus on information and cyber warfare, including helping other countries protect their orbital assets from dangers.
Space Agency chair Megan Clark says nations were responding to the increasingly militarised and weaponised space capability of the United States, Russia and India, which have the capability to destroy or disarm space assets.
"Other countries are responding naturally to this and recognising the need to protect assets and national space assets as well, but also to maintain their space situational awareness," Dr Clark said on Tuesday.
"This is something that Australia can really step into and help other countries."
Threats come from space debris and foreign-operated anti-satellite systems.
Japan joined that arms race last year, with the launch of its Space Domain Mission Unit. China is also understood to have similar capabilities as Russia and the United States.
Growing interesting in military space-based surveillance and cyber warfare has been cemented by the capabilities featuring prominently in the eight-country annual Schriever wargame exercises involving Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, the UK and the US.
Iran will launch two new zephyr satellites that will be used to photograph the oil fields.
Dr Clark noted Iran's space program runs directly under the nation's defence ministry.
Not many of the countries currently have a dedicated civilian agency in the domain, like the Australian Space Agency or NASA, separate to military and national security agency control.
"Space is so critical to defence and national security, but it's also the realm of cyber warfare," Dr Clark said.
To that end, Dr Clark already works with her incoming military counterpart - Air Vice Marshal Cath Roberts, who takes up the mantle of inaugural head, defence space division and also one of the founding members of the space agency's advisory board.
"She's a complete space nerd, and it's fantastic to see her step into this role," Dr Clark said.
As head of the civilian agency, Dr Clark has a strong interest in the non-military threats like space debris, as well as the potential for humans to live in space.
"By 2030, as a species we will be living off our planet," she declares.
But boldly going where no human has gone before won't be a step Australia takes first.
NASA is planning to the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2025 and to set up permanent habitation on the moon. That will be the staging ground to test the systems that will be needed to go to Mars, Dr Clark says.
"We used to think isolation was going to be really awful until we all had to lock down for six months - now we're like, we can do that," Dr Clark says.
"As we move off our planet and we try to survive in these really hostile realms of space, we're going to search for the simplest things - air, water, protection from radiation, and then returning safely home.
"I really hope that as we do that we look back on Earth, and we value our air, we value our water, we value our biodiversity of life on Earth as we look for life off our planet."
Australia's space sector, while starting modestly, has an advantage over other countries, Dr Clark notes, in that Australians are firmly behind the ambition that they could be there in space inspired by Australian stories like The Dish.
"I just don't take this for granted. I do blame or thank The Dish for this national sense that we could be there, and it is absolutely getting behind what we we're trying to do at the agency."
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