Space Force news for week ending 08.13.2023


The Women’s World What? For those into tech-globe Space Force–centric news, the ultimate in competition took place this past week: Namely, the 4th annual Hack–A–Sat competition based in Las Vegas but centered on low Earth orbit. Testing USSF cybersecurity on an actual live in–orbit satellite — now *that’s* a sporting contest! We’ve got stories and results from the competition, plus news of the the interesting bill introduced in the US House of Representatives which would acknowledge the pre–history of the Space Force, plus defense contracts big and small signed. Read on for this week’s Space Force news!

Italians take first place in prestigious Hack–A–Sat competition

On Friday, August 11, an unprecedented event took place between the American southwest desert and low Earth orbit: Ffive separate groups simultaneously targeted the USSF satellite known as Moonlighter through cyberattacks.” Luckily for US defense forces, the attacks were all just a simulation.

The DEF CON Security Conference held in Las Vegas last week culminated in the “Hack–A–Sat” contest between five competing groups to put USAF/USSF cybersecutiry to the largest–ever test of its kind — for a prize of $50,000. As part of the contest, the teams of hackers not only set to break through Moonlighter’s cyberdefenses but also to keep competing teams from breaking in as well.

For the 4th annual running of Hack–A–Sat, the hacking teams for the first time set their sights on an actual live, orbiting satellite. Moonlighter had been launched into LEO back in June specifically for the contest.

Some 10 specific challenges were given to the teams, which competed for 20 hours, from 10am on Friday to 4am on Saturday. The Italy–based group mHACKeroni was deemed the winner after an incredible run which saw the team jump from fourth place to the top spot at around 8pm on Friday, never relinquishing the lead.

Second place went to last year’s Hack–A–Sat champs, Poland Can Into Space. The bronze went to the US/UK team jmp fs:[rcx], an amalgam of two hacking teams including members who won the first–ever Hack–A–Sat competition in 2020.

Said USSF Capt. Kevin Berhert, co–organizer of Hack–A–Sat, to media on Friday: “We don’t want to just be a big, monolithic organization. We want to get as many people smartly involved. And so the long–term impact in that is to understand that you have to bake in cybersecurity — you don’t just bolt it on afterwards.” Sources: PoliticoHack–A–Sat official website.

Hack A Thon Hack A Thon

Bill that would name Legacy Guardians introduced in House of Reps

Could some veterans be retroactively considered Space Force guardians despite serving before the USSF even existed? Five US representatives, all members of the House’s Space Force Caucus — Don Bacon (R.–Neb.) along with co–sponsors Brian Babin (R.– Texas), Salud Carbajal (D.–Calif.), Doug Lamborn ( R.–Colo.) and Ted Lieu (D.–Calif.) —” this week introduced to the House the Space Force Legacy Guardian Recognition Act.

The bill would allow the Department of the Air Force to name as a “Legacy Guardian” any veteran of the armed forces who served to advance the cause of US defense in space.

Babin stated upon announcing the bill that “For over a generation, thousands of men and women in uniform led the way in providing our nation with unparalleled global space capabilities, and their efforts laid the groundwork for our newest branch of the Armed Forces…

“I’m proud to stand alongside my colleagues in acknowledging the contributions of our nation’s Air Force space operators who laid the foundation upon which our current Space Force is built.

“Their expertise and devotion to a country pushed us upward and outward, establishing and ensuring America’s military dominance in space.”

Stated Lieu in part: “This designation [of Legacy Guardian] would not only bring together our space operations veterans with those who currently serve in the Space Force, it would appropriately honor the dedicated veterans and culture of service of the Air Force Space Command.”

Naturally, the advocacy group the Space Force Association immediately endorsed passage of the bill in the House. SFA President USAF Col. (ret.) Bill Woolf said, “The Space Force Association commends Congressmen Don Bacon, Salud Carbajal, Brian Babin, Doug Lamborn, and Ted Lieu for their bipartisan efforts in introducing this important piece of legislation. This bill is a testament to the unity and appreciation for the contributions of our space operations community, honoring their legacy and ensuring their enduring recognition. Sources: Military.comAir & Space Forces magazine EIN News.

Scout Space, Stanford U. partner again on SpaceWERX contract

Representatives of startup Scout Space announced their company’s win of a $1.5 million SpaceWERX contract in partnership with Stanford University Space Rendezvous Laboratory (SLAB).

Scout Space will be working with the Stanford program within the Orbital Prime project devoted to space domain awareness technology and orbital debris removal.

The contract, awarded by the U.S. Space Force’s technology arm SpaceWERX, is part of the Orbital Prime project, which aims to develop technologies for debris removal and in–space services. As a Phase–2 Samll Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contract, Scout Space is obliged to partner up with an academic institution. On its part, SLAB had been previously awarded a smaller–scale, $250,000 Phase–1 STTR contract last August. On that project, SLAB also collaborated with Scout Space.

The current contract calls for Scout to “refine data on space objects, including their location, motion, and other relevant information […]” crucial for space domain awareness.”

Scout Space co–founder/CTO Sergio Gallucci was quoted as saying that “The characterization of location, motion, and other data of objects in space for space domain awareness requires well– defined processes for processing sensor data.” Sources: Fagan Wasanni Technologies Space News.

Lockheed Martin passes critical design review on SDA commsat

Representatives of Lockheed Martin announced on Monday, August 7, that the company’s latest communications satellite plans had successfully completed a critical design review. Under auspices of a $700 million contract awarded in February 2022, the company has been tasked with manufacturing 42 communication satetllites for the USSF Space Development Agency (SDA) as part of the Tranche–1 Transport Layer network.

The announcement indicates that the Tranport Layer remains on schedule for launches beginning in Q4 2024. Launch of the 13 satellites comprising the Tranche–0 Transport Layer — 10 of which were built by Lockheed Martin — are due to be launched later this month, after a delay from the originally–scheduled June 2023 date. Source: Fagen Wasanni Technologies.

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