Saturday, May 21, 2011

Air Force’s D.I.Y. Satellite Hackers

“A number of countries are exploring and acquiring capabilities to counter, attack, and defeat U.S. space systems,” Undersecretary of State Robert G. Joseph… the senior arms control official at the State Department… said.
…He said terrorists and enemy states might view the U.S. space program as “a highly lucrative target,” while sophisticated technologies could improve their ability to interfere with U.S. space systems and services.
Joseph did not identify terror groups or nations that might have such motives.

Nor, apparently, did Joseph mention that the Air Force already has a team of satellite-attackers in place, who’s job is to replicate terror strikes — using nothing but gadgets they can pick up at Radio Shack. My Popular Mechanics article explains:

Three or four times a year, small groups of junior officers gather at an Air Force Research Laboratory facility in New Mexico and try to figure out how to take down an American satellite using nothing more than sweet talk and off-the-shelf gear.

The U.S. military relies on satellites to relay orders, guide precision bombs and direct flying drones. But those multibillion-dollar systems can be surprisingly vulnerable to the simplest of attacks. So, its up to the members of the Space Countermeasures Hands On Program Space CHOP, for short to find those weaknesses before enemies have a chance to crack them.


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