The National Space Program was a set of policies and organisations under the Hawke and Keating Governments created with the goals of developing a national space industry in Australia. When the Howard Government came to power in 1996 the program was abolished following the advice of the Bureau of Industry Economics. The National Space Program was generally considered a failure by most media after its demise. During its existence it was crippled by a lack of budget, and multiple white elephant projects.
Although Australia has had space interests dating back to the Apollo program, prior to the establishment of the NSP Australia had had no unified space policy. At the time of the implementation of the program, Australia had separate space related programs under the Department of Defence, CSIRO, the Department of Transport and Communications, multiple other departments, as well as multiple private and university programs.: p. 170 In response to the disorganised state of the industry, the Hawke Government commissioned the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences for a report into the state of Australia’s space industry. The report, nicknamed the “Madigan Report”, was completed in June 1985 and recommended the establishment of a space office, and focusing Australia’s space industry towards ground-sensing capabilities. The report also recommended that A$100 million be budgeted over five years for Australian space programs.: p. 2
The National Space Program was primarily made up of the Australian Space Office and the Australian Space Board/Council. The Australian Space Board (replaced with the Australian Space Council in 1994) was formed to advise the Minister for Industry, Technology, and Commerce and government on national space policy, particularly in relation to commercial space programs. The ASO was established shortly afterwards to act as secretariat and to manage the day-to-day running of the policies created by the ASB. The National Space Program also encompassed to a lesser degree the CSIRO Office of Space Science and Applications, the Defence Science and Technology Office space projects, and various committees and offices dedicated to certain uses of space technology.: p. 170
The ASO itself was made up of 20 people.: p. 2