Space Force Monitoring the Heavens

The Space Force deputy chief of space operations for intelligence, Maj. Gen. Gregory Gagnon, informed the public of a major step into increasing space domain awareness. The organization has identified 1,000 priority target satellites that they are keeping a close eye on, those being adversarial as well as US military satellites. The US military satellites could be threatened by adversaries and the identification of these will allow the organization to put focus in looking at our own objects in the sky and making sure that there isn’t anything suspicious going on. In addition, the Space Force has also acquired the ability to tap into 600 sensor systems from commercial and allied partners that will facilitate a movement of information to the Space Force’s Unified Data Library (UDL). This catalogue is available to the United States and its partners. This influx in data will also be utilized by the 75th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron, which was formed to do target systems analysis and find vulnerabilities for adversary spacecrafts. A key point of all of this, is that this information will be presented to the Joint Force commander with targeting options (ex: targeting a link between a satellite and the ground, or attacking a ground station, ect). 

Cybersecurity will play a major role in the protection of this information. Compiling all this information into a database with inadequate protection could allow bad actors to hack in and skew or delete data, leading to international crisis. For example, if a bad actor skewed the data by compromising the sensors, it could make it inaccurately seem that an adversary is planning something malicious, leading to the US acting on wrong information and potentially taking out a link without good reason. Another thing is that a bad actor could delete information to make it such that an adversaries malicious work goes undetected. Since the information in this catalogue is being downlinked, this opens vulnerabilities of unauthorized access and data breaches as well, as adversaries may also find a way to copy this data. Another concern could be the age of the satellites providing data through their sensors. If these satellites are older, there might be a lack of cyber protection on them, since the engineers might not have been extra concerned with cyber-attacks. Certain vendors providing components onto the satellites may not have the necessary qualifications to combat cyber-attacks.