Space Cyberspace Training Ecosystem: Real World Experience

Testing is an important part of any space program and testing cyber functions for a satellite is no different.  When it comes to training and testing our nation’s cyber operators who protect and operator these satellites and their communication networks, they must be ready for a wide range of offensive and defensive scenarios that they could face.  That is why its critical to train outside a simulator and use the equipment and operating environment that is intended for use.  The Air Force Research Laboratory is planning on using cubesats to create a “cyber range for space” for operators to “conduct realistic exercises simulating cyberattacks against satellites and ground systems” according the to the article “AFRL developing ‘cyber range’ for space operators” from SpaceNews (Erwin 2022).

Using cost-effective cubesats to simulate space assets in orbit gives cyber operators the experience necessary to deal with scenarios in a way that promotes the “train like we fight” mentality.  If you look at other military domains like air, ground, and water, the military regularly uses real aircraft, live ammunition, and sea trials to exercise our defenders and promote tactics and techniques that help strengthen our forces.  Space is no different to this.  From the ground centers to the space assets in flight, a whole space cyber ecosystem can be recreate for the sole purpose of training and exercising the entire chain without putting risk on an irreplaceable asset.  According to the article, there are plans to launch the first four satellites into orbit in FY24 (Erwin 2022).

Works Cited

Erwin, Sandra. 2022. AFRL developing ‘cyber range’ for space operators. October 6. Accessed February 22, 2023.