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NASA Launches Experimental Satellite for Use in Spacecraft Hacking Competition

Moonlighter satellite

NASA Launches Experimental Satellite for Use in Spacecraft Hacking Competition

NASA and SpaceX launched the Moonlighter experimental cube satellite into low-Earth orbit ahead of the 2023 DEF CON hacking conference to be held in Las Vegas.

The Moonlighter CubeSat was developed by The Aerospace Corp., the Air Force Research Laboratory and the U.S. Space Systems Command as a “hacking sandbox” that would help researchers create security solutions for satellites. Aaron Myrick, a senior project engineer at The Aerospace Corp., noted that the purpose of Moonlighter is to identify how to do cyber operations in space.

Moonlighter was launched alongside other CubeSats aboard a SpaceX rocket on a resupply mission to the International Space Station, CyberScoop reported.

The Moonlighter event is the latest iteration of the U.S. Air Force’s Hack-A-Sat competition, a multi-year effort designed to improve private-public cybersecurity cooperation. During DEF CON 2023, five white-hat hacking teams will attempt to infiltrate the spacecraft to inform efforts to improve space-based cybersecurity.

Information gathered from the event will be fed into the Space Attack Research and Tactic Analysis framework, which The Aerospace Corp. launched in October to describe threats unique to the space sector. SPARTA includes laboratory-proven methods that have yet to be observed in the real world.

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Category: Cybersecurity