Cyberattacks against space and missile system contractors.
The security company ESET describes a North Korean campaign of targeted attacks against European defense and aerospace companies. They call it "Operation In(ter)cerption," and it has two purposes: espionage and financially motivated business email compromise. Pyongyang's operators start with LinkedIn, proffering meretricious job offers to workers at selected companies. They seek to develop relationships into sources of information; they also in some cases work to compromise their email accounts in order to induce companies to fall for fraudulent fund transfer requests. This is consistent both with North Korea’s intelligence requirements and its chronic need for cash.
Not all cyber threats to the aerospace sector are from nation-state intelligence services. Criminal gangs have also turned their attention to companies working in the field. The DoppelPaymer ransomware gang early in June hacked DMI, a major IT provider with considerable NASA work, ZDNet reports.
The US Defense Space Strategy is out.
The US Department of Defense has published its Defense Space Strategy Summary. The document argues that the present moment represents a significant inflection point in the US approach to space in the context of national security. Not only have space-dependent technologies become central enablers of both civilian economic activity and military operations, but space itself has become a region of international conflict. "Space is now a distinct warfighting domain, demanding enterprise-wide changes to policies, strategies, operations, investments, capabilities, and expertise for a new strategic environment," the document says. Rivalry with both China and Russia has become particularly sharp. The Strategy is a consideration of the purposes and uses of space power, which it defines as "The sum of a nation’s capabilities to leverage space for diplomatic, information, military, and economic activities in peace or war in order to attain national objectives."
The strategy is structured to achieve a "desired condition," which the Strategy identifies as, "The space domain is secure, stable, and accessible. The use of space by the United States and our allies and partners is underpinned by sustained, comprehensive U.S. military strength. The United States is able to leverage our use of space to generate, project, and employ power across all domains throughout the spectrum of conflict." The US will pursue three objectives to achieve this desired condition: "Maintain space superiority, "Provide space support to national, joint, and combined operations," and "Ensure space stability."
The "central problem" in achieving this desired condition is, "The U.S. defense space enterprise was not built for the current strategic environment. The intentions and advancements of potential adversaries in space are threatening the ability of the United States to deter aggression, to protect U.S. national interests, and to fight and win future conflicts." US dependence on space technology, which it relies on "more than any other nation," presents adversaries with an opportunity to hold the nation at risk. China and Russia are the two peer or near-peer rivals in this new strategic environment, but Iran and North Korea are also said to present significant challenges to US interests.
The "central idea" advanced to address this new strategic environment is the recognition that space will no longer be treated as a "support function," but rather as a warfighting domain. "The Department [of Defense] will grow its spacepower capacity over the next 10 years to ensure space superiority and secure the Nation’s vital interests. The Department will take action rapidly to leverage opportunities and U.S. strengths in close cooperation with our allies, partners, and industry." Four "lines of effort" will be pursued in this strategy:
"Build a comprehensive military advantage in space."
"Integrate military spacepower into national, joint, and combined operations."
"Shape the strategic environment."
"Cooperate with allies, partners, industry, and other U.S. Government departments and agencies."
Space Force is foreseen, of course, as playing a pivotal role in executing this strategy. The document recognizes the Service's creation as one of the principal "opportunities" to US has to address space challenges.
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Congress takes up Defense space strategy and policy.
As versions of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act advance in committee, Congress has some questions about the direction the Department of Defense is taking in space. Air Force Magazine outlines the answers Congress has asked for:
Cislunar Space Capabilities. Already flagged as a region of potential great power conflict, particularly with China, the Secretary of Defense has been asked to report by December 1st of this year to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees "on deep space mission requirements for national security.”
Satellite Communications. The House Armed Services Committee wants the Secretary of Defense to finish a plan, by March 1st of next year, to find commercial satellite communications ground station providers, and to do so affordably. The model the Committee has in mind is taken from terrestrial cell towers.
Space Situational Awareness. Congress expects a report on November 1st of this year on the roles assigned the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, US Space Command, and Space Force in maneuvering space assets away from potential risks and threats in peacetime, crisis, and conflict.
Space Launch. General Raymond, Space Force Chief of Space Operations, is charged with reporting by December 1st how he intends to put military systems in orbit. That report is expected to address cost, risk, launch system reusability, launch providers' track records, and which activities should remain in-house (and which others should be contracted out). General Raymond also owes a report, by October 30th, on how the launch facilities at Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral will be upgraded and maintained (and how much that will cost). The Secretary of Defense has been asked to report by March 1st, 2021, about possible new space testing and training range requirements.
Nontraditional Space Contractors. A large and unspecified number of Defense space officials (Air Force Magazine quantifies them as "a slew") are expected to explain to Congress the challenges companies face when they enter the space market, and how those challenges might be addressed. Congress also wants some insight into "the future of space innovation and acquisition."
Space Development Agency. SDA Director Derek Tournear and General Raymond are expected to report by December 1st on the Defense Department's plans to buy commercial space services.Broadband communications are particularly called out.
Broadband and Cellular Technology will also be featured in a second report, to be rendered to the House Armed Services Committee by January 31st of his coming year. The Committee wants to know how the Pentagon intends to play in the market for commercial communication satellites in low-earth orbit, and how it intends to use them in lieu of "complex ground infrastructure" in support of combat operations.
Space-based Weather Systems. The House Armed Services Committee, noting that legacy systems are now beyond their design life, wants a report by October 30th on what's being done to buy new military weather satellites. The Committee sees an opportunity here not only for buying commercial weather data as a service, but for effective rapid prototyping as well.
There's a manifest interest throughout Congress in learning how commercial companies will compete for the work the Pentagon needs to have performed.
Space Force organization takes shape.
US Space Force will have three echelons of command, Military.com reports: field commands, deltas, and squadrons. (That's two fewer than its Air Force sister Service uses, where the organizational levels run from numbered air force through wing, group, and squadron to flight). There will be three field commands at the top: Space Operations Command (SpOC), Space Systems Command (SSC), and Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM). The deltas will be commanded by Space Force O-6s, which, whatever the new Service winds up calling them, will be the equivalent of Air Force colonels.
STARCOM, to be led by a two-star general officer and scheduled to become active by 2021, will be a training and education command. Space Systems Command will be responsible for acquisition, launch, system development and testing, maintenance of space systems, and science and technology. Space Operations Command will provide forces to Combatant Commands, the joint force, and coalition partners.
Still to be decided are details of uniforms, insignia, base names, and other matters of Service culture. Missions, installations, and personnel are in the process of transitioning into Space Force. The new Service's relationship with the Air Force is clearest and most advanced. Defense News says that details of how reorganization will affect Navy, Army, and Defense organizations with space missions are in the process of being worked out.
Fostering innovation: the USAF's space accelerator and other efforts.
The Air Force Space Accelerator Program has opened its competition for eight slots for start-ups to take up temporary residence at the Colorado Springs Catalyst Space Accelerator campus. The winners, Air Force Magazine says, will be educated and "nurtured" in their efforts to bring products and solutions to market. The Air Force's goal is rapid transition of innovative technologies to the operating forces. This cohort's problem statement focuses on cybersecurity: "How might we apply cyber technologies to secure the next generation of space operations and increase resiliency?"
According to Fifth Domain, the US Senate has included language in its version of the National Defense Authorization Act intended to move the Department of Defense in the direction of funding more pilot programs in cybersecurity. The bill the Senate put together alludes to the Cyberspace Solarium Commissions' recommendations.
Space Force has invoked the Defense Production Act in favor of six small launch providers whose operations were at risk because of the COVID-19 pandemic. C4ISRNet lists the companies who benefited as Aevum, Astra, X-BOW, Rocket Lab USA, Space Vector and VOX Space. The companies will receive sole-source contracts for two ride-share missions each that they'll fly within the next two years. The Industrial Base Council approved the selections under the Act, which is designed to shore up important but vulnerable sections of the Defense Industrial Base.
Ligado decision remains on track, despite concerns about GPS spectrum availability.
Despite Congressional pushback (members of the House calling for an Inspector General inquiry, the Senate introducing anit-Ligado language into its version oft the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act) and reservations the US Department of Defense has expressed, the Federal Communications Commission seems likely to stand by its April decision to release the L-Band spectrum to Ligado Networks for 5G deployment. C4ISRNet, citing sources within the FCC, rates the chances of the Commission revisiting its decision as negligible. The decision has been controversial because GPS satellites are principal users of the L-Band, and critics fear that a more crowded spectrum could result in loss of GPS function.
Defense satellite operations.
Space Force launched the third GPS III satellite from Cape Canaveral on June 30th. The launch had been delayed from its original April date by operational constraints the response to the COVID-19 pandemic imposed, C4ISRNet reports.
Next-Gen OPIR is more than a year away from its next critical milestone review, but the Government Accountability Office has warned of some risks the program faces that need to be addressed before then, Via Satellite says. The challenges to the new missile defense satellite system involve its ability to meet schedule and sensor integration requirements. The Senate is considering adding $120 million for the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor to the coming fiscal year's appropriation. C4ISRNet writes. The sensor technology is expected to play an important role in OPIR.
DARPA's Blackjack satellite project won't transition to a program of record, but it is expected to demonstrate technologies vital to future Defense mesh network communications. C4ISRNet has an interview with Blackjack Project Manager Paul “Rusty” Thomas on the progress of the demonstration.
Commercial satellite operations.
Northrop Grumman has delivered two satellites to launch facilities at Kourou in French Guiana. The Galaxy 30 (G-30) spacecraft for Intelsat and the Mission Extension Vehicle 2 (MEV-2) will fly later this month aboard an Ariane V launch vehicle. MEV-2 is scheduled to rendezvous with an Intelsat spacecraft in 2021 for in-orbit servicing.
SpaceX says it's put some 32,000 Linux computers into orbit so far with its StarLink low-earth orbit Internet Constellation, ZDNet reports.
Internationalization of launch services.
On June 14th Edinburgh rocket start-up Skyora successfully flew a sub-orbital shot from a range on Shetland, TechCrunch reports. Shetland is one of the sites under consideration as a Scottish space port.
The day before Skyora's Scottish mission, the still young but more established Rocket Lab put three US National Reconnaissance Office satellites into orbit from its Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand's North Island Hawke's Bay Region. In addition to the three NRO craft, the launch vehicle carried one payload from NASA and another from the University of New South Wales Canberra Space, C4ISRNet writes.
Today's edition of the CyberWire reports events affecting China, France, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Cyber incidents at NASA surged by 366%(Atlas VPN) According to data extracted and analyzed by Atlas VPN, cyber incidents at NASA increased by 366% in 2019. Being one of the nation’s most important federal agencies, this is an alarming finding.
Engility wins $106M DIA contract(Intelligence Community News) San Diego, CA-based Kratos Defense & Security Solutions, Inc. announced on June 16 that it will acquire CPI ASC Signal Division, Inc. (ASC) from Communications
CACI Wins $1.5B NGA Cyber Contract(WashingtonExec) CACI International has been awarded a $1.5 billion single-award indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract to provide transport and cybersecurity
Amazon Launches Space Push to Drive Cloud-Computing Growth(Wall Street Journal) Amazon is boosting efforts to lure military and commercial space organizations as major users of its cloud-computing services, hoping to benefit from rising government spending and burgeoning private investment.
NASA orders Lunar Gateway’s crew cabin from Northrop Grumman(News Brig) NASA already awarded space technology company Maxar a $375 million contract to develop the PPE last year. The agency says launching both components at the same time reduces costs and technical risks, since it will eliminate the need to dock two separate elements in the orbit where the Gateway will operate. The $187 million contract […]
Taiclet Takes Helm of Lockheed Martin(Via Satellite) Lockheed Martin on Monday completed its planned leadership transition with James Taiclet entering as its new president and CEO, succeeding Marillyn Hewson who remains with the company as executive chairman. Taiclet, 60, will continue to serve on the company’s board, which he joined in 2018. Before leading Lockheed
Mercury Systems Receives $3.9M Contract Award Based on New System-in-Package Capability(GlobeNewswire) Mercury Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRCY, www.mrcy.com), a leader in trusted, secure mission-critical technologies for aerospace and defense, announced it received a $3.9 million multi-phase contract award from a leading defense prime contractor for the development of a high-density system-in-package solution for radar systems utilizing its novel 2.5D chip-scale integration technology.
NSO Group Launches Drone Defense System, Eclipse(sUAS News - The Business of Drones) NSO Group, a leading technology developer that licenses software solutions to governments and law enforcement agencies to investigate and prevent terror acts, fight crime and increase public safety, has launched Eclipse, an innovative drone defense system. Eclipse is the premier cyber counter-drone platform designed to automatically detect, take over and safely […]
Space Force Preps for Third GPS III Launch(Air Force Magazine) The Space Force’s third GPS III satellite will head to space June 30, after its launch was rescheduled from late April due to the coronavirus pandemic.
FSSCat/Ф-sat-1 ready for launch(Phys.org) The first artificial intelligence to be carried onboard a European Earth observation mission will be launched this week from Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. The pioneering artificial intelligence technology named ɸ-sat-1, pronounced PhiSat-1, will be the first experiment to improve the efficiency of sending vast quantities of data back to Earth.
Special Operations Command is diving into space(C4ISRNET) SOCOM is looking into putting its own cubesats on orbit, but its also looking into hosted payloads with other constellations, from DARPA's project Blackjack to commercial satellites like Starlink or OneWeb.
Special Ops: ‘Further Behind Than We Know’ On New Tech(Breaking Defense) “We had owned the air space and the EW spectrum,” said SOCOM acquisition chief James Smith. “I would argue that has already turned. We are in a contested environment, where we have to fight for airspace and EW spectrum. It’s contested.”
Navy Seeks Silicon Valley Seamlessness In Familiar Package(Breaking Defense) The Navy is looking for a sea change in the way it manages code. The department awarded Leidos a $7.7 billion contract Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN) program in February. Now they’re able to get going since the Government Accountability Office denied a bid protest from Perspecta on June 17, which had previously held up the contract.
Research and Development
How Project Blackjack is turning the corner(C4ISRNET) DARPA's Project Blackjack will demonstrate how an on orbit mesh network can help the military. In an interview with C4ISRNET, Project Manager Paul “Rusty” Thomas explains the path forward for the experimental constellation.
BAE Systems Selected to Provide Autonomy Capabilities for DARPA’s Squad X Program(Olean Times Herald) Squad X prime contractor Lockheed Martin has awarded BAE Systems a contract to provide key autonomy and artificial intelligence capabilities that aim to advance the effectiveness of tactical robotic air and ground vehicles and create true partnerships between ground warfighters – Soldiers and Marines – and machines at the small-unit level.
Op-ed | UK-U.S. space cooperation soars to new heights(SpaceNews.com) On June 16, after two years of negotiations, the United Kingdom and United States have signed their new “U.K.-U.S. Technology Safeguards Agreement,” which is sure to enable even more inspirational space endeavor on both sides of the Atlantic.
Senate committee wants more cyber pilot programs(Fifth Domain) The Senate Armed Services Committee also wants to add new responsibilities to the Pentagon’s Principal Cyber Advisor as part of a broader effort to ensure cyber forces can meet new challenges.
Space Force Nat’l Guard Likely To Cost $100M/Year: CBO(Breaking Defense) “The Guard and Reserves have existing space capabilities and talents that fit within the mission of the Space Force," says Rep. Ken Calvert, ranking member on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee.
Four reports a Senate panel wants to see on Space Force(C4ISRNET) The Senate's annual defense bill calls for more information on which missions should be incorporated into the Space Force, where U.S. Space Command should be headquartered and whether there should be a Space National Guard, among other things.