SpaceX Has Launched A Satellite Meant To Be Hacked

SpaceX has successfully launched its Dragon Spacecraft on its remarkable Falcon 9 rocket for the 20th time on June 5th. CRS-28 was what the mission was called and was a re-supply mission of the International Space Station (ISS) contracted by NASA. Additionally, this mission also lifted and deployed a number of CubeSats into low Earth orbit.

One of such CubeSats that was launched in CRS-28 mission was the Moonlighter which will undoubtedly be the main point of a competition that is currently scheduled to take place at the annual Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas later this year.

Teams will participate in a challenge to infiltrate the software of the orbital system. This is the first time the Hack-A-Sat competition, previously a simulation, will involve attempting to hack into a real-life satellite.

The Moonlighter project is a by-product of a collaboration between the Aerospace Corporation, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the U.S. Space Systems Command.

According to the Aerospace Corporation’s website, Moonlighter, which weighs roughly 5 kg, is “the world’s first and only hacking sandbox in space.”

The satellite will “serve a critical role in exercising defensive cyber operations (DCO); developing cyber tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs); and verifying end-to-end cyber threat assessment and prevention across the space enterprise.”

At the end of the Hack-A-Sat competition, the top three teams will be awarded prizes of $50,000, $30,000, and $20,000, respectively.

In April, US National Cyber Director Kemba Walden stated that space cybersecurity is “urgent and requires high-level attention,” citing the fact that one of Russia’s first moves ahead of its invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 was to brick Viasat communications satellites.

Last year, SpaceX demonstrated its responsiveness by swiftly addressing a Russian cyberattack that affected its Starlink satellite system over Ukraine, earning praise, “eyewatering speed” from a Pentagon official.

Recognizing the importance of secure communication in space, SpaceX has recently announced the development of a new internet satellite service called Starshield.

This service aims to enhance cybersecurity for government agencies and safeguard national security interests in space.

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