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The Defense Department signed an agreement with the Australian defense ministry to share space situational awareness data, announced Pentagon officials on Wednesday. "Many nations share the space domain, and it is in our best interest to create an environment where the sharing of SSA data facilitates transparency and improves flight safety," said Gen. Robert Kehler, head of US Strategic Command, in DOD's April 24 release. This government-to-government memorandum is the first of its kind that will permit an advanced exchange of SSA data for purposes like space launch support, decommissioning satellites, and analysis of space objects' trajectories to prevent collisions, states the release. It will enable the Australian government to request space data gathered by the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., according to command officials. The agreement builds upon the November 2010 US-Australia statement of principles on cooperation in the SSA realm. Last fall, Australia agreed to operate an Air Force C-band ground-based radar system on its soil in support of the larger US network that monitors objects on orbit. (Includes AFPS report by Donna Miles)