A New Rule Of "No Encryption, No Fly" Proposed For Small Satellites
Editorials News | Aug-18-2018
Small satellites that do not have encrypted systems but have propulsion systems pose small but a real threat of getting hacked. These can endanger other satellites, according to a new study by a team of graduate students. The research was presented at the AIAA/Utah State University Conference on Small Satellites on August 9. They recommended the space industry to not launch such satellites as they could lead to "regulatory overreaction" by government agencies. They proposed a policy of 'no encryption, no fly'. This comes after cubesat developers are looking to use more advanced propulsion systems. These changes can provide small satellites with large changes in velocity. This can cause major orbital change.
Graduates from both University of Colorado and Stanford University modeled different propulsion systems on a notional 10-kg nanosatellite. The results ranged from satellite being able to reach medium Earth orbit altitudes in a matter of two hours with chemical propulsion and passing geostationary orbit in around an year when using an electric propulsion system.
The scenario in the first case is troubling. This is because hackers can easily take control of a satellite and redirect it quickly. Government satellites and many commercial ones have security that makes it difficult to get hacked. But, many lack this security. This could have serious implications.
This led to the recommendation of the new rule. With industry self-regulation, launch would have to comply with some rules that would help in solving the problem.
By: Neha Maheshwari
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