Feeds

US military satellite to get attack-warning equipment

Guarding against mysterious inopportune accidents

Remote control for virtualized desktops

A US military satellite is to be fitted with equipment which will enable it to detect hostile action and inform ground controllers what's going on, according to reports.

US military graphic showing catalogued objects in Earth orbit

In space, nobody can hear your victim scream ... yet

Lieutenant General Ellen Pawlikowski of the US Air Force told reporters including those of Aviation Week on Wednesday that a classified satellite is now planned to go into space equipped with a Self-Awareness Space Situational Awareness (SASSA) package, kit which the Pentagon has been working on for some time.

The US military and intelligence agencies operate a mighty fleet of spacecraft, with missions ranging from navigation and timing like the well-known GPS constellation – which makes almost all satnavs and a surprising amount of other Earthbound civilian electronics work, as well as guiding missiles etc – to blacker-than-black top secret spying and surveillance.

Most of these satellites, while in touch with ground control stations some or all of the time, have no sensors which would let them know if they were being meddled with or attacked – and this is a real possibility as more nations acquire space capabilities or groundbased gear such as jammers or lasers which can reach into space. As things stand, a satellite could simply go offline for a while or permanently, and its controllers would never know what happened to it.

That's where SASSA and various other US military space hardware comes in. SASSA itself would let a satellite know if it was being jammed, blinded or scrambled: other, dedicated spacecraft would be able to watch events in Earth orbit and perhaps detect or monitor sneaky anti-satellite operations involving actual intercepts and collisions.

It would seem the idea is not so much to mount any particular defence or retaliation against hostile anti-satellite efforts, but rather to establish clearly who is behind them. As action against another nation's spacecraft is a massive no-no under international convention, it is usually only worth doing if one can be sure that nobody will be sure who did it (or even sure that any action took place, perhaps).

SASSA and such efforts would seem to mean that attacks on US satellites will soon be much less deniable: which is, perhaps, why we are being told about them in advance. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...
FYI this isn't just going to target Windows, Linux and OS X fans
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Home Office: Fancy flogging us some SECRET SPY GEAR?
If you do, tell NOBODY what it's for or how it works
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
'Regin': The 'New Stuxnet' spook-grade SOFTWARE WEAPON described
'A degree of technical competence rarely seen'
Syrian Electronic Army in news site 'hack' POP-UP MAYHEM
Gigya redirect exploit blamed for pop-rageous ploy
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.