Lunar Basing Operations and Risk

Lunar Operations

The Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University is laying the groundwork for a cis-lunar economy. The team is engaged in discussions about what life will look like on the moon and how the moon can be leveraged in order to facilitate further space exploration. Many space organizations see the colonization of the moon as humanity’s next step into the cosmos. The moon provides a stable extra-atmospheric base for refueling, building, and experimentation.

At the Applied Physics Laboratory scientists and engineers are working on making this a reality. Some of the items they are working on include staging large prototypes on Earth, robotic operational availability requirements, lunar refueling operations, and the creation of oxygen from regolith. All of this is being discussed in relation to the Artemis missions being executed by NASA. Artemis seeks to put humans back on the moon in the near future.

Cybersecurity Risk

There are an infinite number of cybersecurity vulnerabilities inherent to lunar operations. With such a large gap in the ability to physically address the issue, the sheer expense of operations, and the visibility of the systems – lunar systems present very significant targets. To address some of the potential targets and the ways they could be exploited we can start with a lunar colony. The moon is a dangerous and inhospitable place to live. Human beings on the moon will be feet away from deadly conditions at all times. Because of this, there have to be a lot of safeguards in the lunar domiciles.

Some of these safeguards are binary in nature and could be manipulated in order to hold the lives of the residents at risk. For example, an adversary who gains access to the power system could shut off life support functions or hold them hostage. On a lunar base astronauts are entirely reliant on their life-support systems and those systems generally have some feedback to the ground. That feedback creates surface area for an attack. The surface area of attack paired (opportunity) paired with the significant damage and visibility of such an attack (motivation) creates a significant risk. It will be imperative for professionals overseeing these projects to keep cybersecurity in mind when designing these systems to safeguard our pioneers.

Source: How the Applied Physics Laboratory is tackling Artemis moon exploration – SpaceNews (