Space and Australia's Future: Facing Fundamentals

Dr Cathryn O’Sullivan completed both her Bachelor and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Queensland. Her early research explored the role of microbes in the treatment of solid waste and wastewaters, the production of biofuels and the cycling of nutrients (particularly carbon) in freshwater and marine sediments. Her recent work has expanded to explore interactions between plants and soil microbes involved in plant nutrition and biocontrol of crop diseases, as well as the ways that researchers can help the Controlled Environment and Urban farming industries. Her work uses microbial, molecular and physiological tools to explore ways to improve food production with a focus on disease control, nutrient use efficiency, waste reuse and alternative growing systems.

James Tanna is a Research Assistant at the University of Sydney’s Law School and a Law Clerk at Australian Government Solicitor. He has varied research interests and is currently fascinated by all things space, especially the role of the social sciences in space exploration and development. James recently completed an honours thesis on the subject of property theories suitable for underpinning a system of lunar property rights.

Thomas Gooch is the Founder: Office of Planetary Observations (OPO) , Office of Other Spaces and a founding member of the Moon Village Association. With expertise in landscape architecture, Earth Observations and natural systems. He has initiated global discussions around how to consider a landscape sensitive perspective in Space. This led to the writing of the worlds first Declaration of Rights of the Moon  In this way, he considers how we might inhabit outer space in relationship, and response to, environmental systems through intention, governance and technology.

Tristan Moss is a senior lecturer in the Griffith Asia Institute. He is a historian researching Australian space history and the history of the ADF with a focus on its culture and policy. His current research focuses on a history of Australian space activities, 1957 – 2020. Tristan is a Fulbright Senior Scholar, (Fulbright Professional Scholarship in Australian-U.S. Alliance Studies, sponsored by DFAT) and winner of a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, titled ‘Australia and Space: Government policy and public imagination, 1957 – 2021’.

Session 8: Space and Australia’s Future

Is the development of space, including the Moon and beyond to Mars, really inevitable? What are the potential risks and benefits and how do we assess the cost:benefit ratio? If Space development is inevitable, how do we ensure that development is fair, equal, and does not damage the outer space environment, or is misused in exploiting the resources of Earth? This session explored the potential future of space use through historical, ethical, and technological lenses.

Moderator: Emeritus Professor Roy MacLeod (Series Convenor)


  • Dr Cathryn O’Sullivan, CSIRO
  • James Tanna, University of Sydney
  • Thomas Gooch, Moon Village Association and Office of Planetary Observations
  • Dr Tristan Moss, Griffith Asia Institute
  • Claire McFarland (series co-Convenor)

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