In the coming decades, astronomical breakthroughs will increasingly come from observations from the best ground-based locations and from space observatories. At infrared and sub-millimetre wavelengths in particular, Antarctica offers site conditions that are found nowhere else on earth. There are two implications of this. First, for tackling some of the most crucial problems in astrophysics, a large telescope in Antarctica can outperform any other ground-based facility. Second, with infrared backgrounds between one and two orders of magnitude below those at other sites, superior sub-mm transmission and extraordinary low atmospheric turbulence above the boundary layer, Antartical offers designers of space missions a unique test-bed for their ideas and instrumentation.© (2002) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.