NASA launches 3 sounding rockets with secretive US military payloads

A sounding rocket launching from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in an undated launch.
  1. Space vehicle
  2. Summary:
    1. Three sounding rockets will take off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wednesday (Oct. 20).
    2. The Department of Defense regularly utilizes launch pads at the Wallops Facility for flight testing.
    3. The Department of Defense refused to disclose any information on the mission’s payloads.
    4. Sounding rockets are launched at shallow trajectories and do not reach orbit.
    5. Sounding rockets are used to probe the atmosphere where other meteorological tools can’t reach.
    6. Sounding rockets have also been used for astronomy to measure electromagnetic waves.
    7. Sounding rockets are very similar to missles and the two systems share the same technology.
    8. As a result, armed forces around the world have a vested interest in sounding rockets.
    9. The Wallops Flight Facility has launched over 16,000 sounding rockets since 1945.
  3. Cybersecurity Implications:
    1. Sounding rockets share a lot of similarities to missles and can potentially be used in the same way. As such, cybersecurity threats have very grave implications that could possibly spark wars.
    2. Nation-states or terror groups might hack sounding rockets to steal data or to use them as weapons. These threat actors might use the rocket as a missle to attack certain targets. Given that these are US sounding rockets, this could lead to massive geopolitical issues.
    3. Other threat actors such as cybercrime groups or hacktivist might try to interefere with the mission for personal reasons. It is unlikely that these lower level threat actors would be malicous enough to use the sounding rocket as a missle.
    4. The biggest concern is using the sounding rocket as a missle. In thinking of cybersecurity, it is important to identify threat actors capable of such malicious acts and to protect against them.
  4. Critical Systems:
    1. Because sounding rockets are often used to collect data, this data they collect can be considered critical data to their mission.
    2. Other critical systems include the flight navigation for the sounding rockets.