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Try to dock the SpaceX Crew Dragon at the space station in this simulator

Screenshot of the simulator

Put yourself in the shoes of a NASA astronaut and try to dock to the ISS with this Crew Dragon capsule simulator. Will you succeed in this space navigation mission?

On May 27th, a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule inhabited by 2 American NASA astronauts should take off from the top of a Falcon 9 rocket to join the International Space Station (see our article on the subject).

While waiting for this historic date, SpaceX offers you to put yourself in the shoes of an astronaut and try to dock to the ISS with this Crew Dragon capsule simulator.

This simulator is very realistic. It gives a very good idea of what awaits the 2 astronauts. The simulator allows you to manually control the process of docking the Dragon Crew to the International Space Station (ISS). Even if for the astronauts, the process should be fully automated, they can take manual control at any time if necessary.

SpaceX Dragon Crew Capsule (Source: Wikipedia)

SpaceX says that it is on such a simulator that the 2 astronauts trained to perform the maneuver. So we’re really not very far from the real interface that the astronauts would use in this case.

Exemple in video

Let’s go to the simulator.

Screenshot of the simulator



First manned SpaceX Crew Dragon flight set for May 27 liftoff

SpaceX Dragon Crew Capsule (Source: Wikipedia)

Barring a last-minute postponement, a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule will take off from the top of a Falcon 9 rocket on May 27th. The mission, called Demo-2, is the first manned flight of the Dragon Crew capsule…

As a reminder, the mission called Demo-1, which took place successfully from March 2 to 8, 2019, consisted of a round trip of the unmanned Dragon Crew capsule between Earth and the ISS.

It will be a great return for the Americans with the first manned flight since the space shuttle program was shut down following two serious accidents.

Space Shuttle Atlantis at Launchpad 39A in Cape Canaveral, Florida (Photo credits: Dave Mosher)

Since the last flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2011, Americans have been forced to use the services of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to fly their astronauts into space and back and forth with the International Space Station (ISS).

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin on the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 11 October 2018. The rocket stopped in mid-flight, but an evacuation system saved the crew. (Photo credits: Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

The next launch of the Falcon 9 and the Crew Dragon capsule will take place at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where Space Shuttle Atlantis last lifted off. It will be a manned flight with American astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken as passengers. This mission will take place on May 27, 2020.

Here’s what SpaceX and NASA’s crucial Crew Dragon mission should look like on May 27

This very special mission will be extremely well attended. We will provide you with the LIVE link in a future article. Good luck and good luck to the crew.

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken train aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule that will transport them to the ISS (Photo credits: NASA)

What are the threats to space systems?

Credits : Wikipedia (pas de crédits)

In this article, we will try to identify the various threats to space systems.

This article is a synthesis of the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) report on the Space Threat Assessment 2020. The slides used to illustrate the article are from a presentation by Todd Harrison, the Director of Defense Budget Analysis and Aerospace Security Project at CSIS.

The first satellite in space was the Russian Sputnik satellite launched in 1957. Immediately after this feat, the United States began the first studies for the development of anti-satellite weapons called ASAT (for Anti-Satellite). The first interception test of a satellite was carried out by the Americans on 13 October 1959. It was a Boulder Ryan missile launched from a bomber whose objective was to detonate a nuclear bomb close to the satellite in order to destroy it.

This type of anti-satellite weapon (ASAT) is called a kinetic weapon. But there are many others. Let’s explore together the landscape of threats to satellites.

What has changed in space?

What has changed in space to create new threats? There are what we call the 4Ds: Diverse, Disruptive, Disordered and Dangerous.

Crédits : CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

Space is more Diverse

Until the 1990s, space was mainly dominated by the two great powers USA/USSR whose Cold War confrontation was coming to an end. Until then, these were mainly military satellites. The Russians also had a problem with the longevity of their satellites, so they had to launch them more often. That’s why they became so good at launching them.

From the 1990s onwards, the US/USSR duopoly began to diminish, leaving more room for diversity in the space landscape with greater development of the Europeans but also of China.

Crédits : CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

Space is more Disruptive

With the diversity of the space landscape also comes the diversity in the use of satellites, moving from predominantly military use to increasingly commercial use.

Satellite imagery is developing more and more. Meteorological satellites are also arriving, as well as communications satellites. It is the SpaceX company that will bring disruption to the space sector with the ability to bring back launchers that land on earth.

Crédits : CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

Space is more Disordered

Inevitably, with increasingly diverse and disruptive uses, space societies have practices that do not always comply with laws and treaties.

In order to launch and operate satellites, licences must be obtained from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The first Cubesat satellites, such as the SpaceBee 1-4, which are small satellites with a side length of 10 cm, were refused licenses.

Similarly, to be able to take satellite pictures of the Earth, a license from the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is required. Obviously, SpaceX has not understood this because it systematically carries small cameras to film its in-flight operations and the Earth is systematically seen in the background.

Similarly, when Elon Musk conducted the test of the Falcon Heavy Rocket, he took the opportunity to put one of his red Tesla into orbit. And so that everyone could see the car, he put small cameras all around it that film and photograph the Earth.

All the satellites now have cameras. You can see that laws and treaties are not designed for today’s uses.

Crédits : CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

Space is more Dangerous

More and more activity depends on space. Military missiles are now guided by satellite. On the slide you see a U.S. drone, the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, which is guided not only by radio but also by a satellite link called SATCOM. The ships get their position from GPS. During combat maneuvers, communications and positioning can be done in real time via satellite.

Crédits : CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

All these uses show that we have become increasingly dependent on space while most of these uses are not adequately protected in the face of an ever-increasing proliferation of threats.

In 2007, the Chinese acknowledged that they had carried out an ASAT (anti-satellite) test by destroying one of their own meteorological satellites, creating thousands of pieces of debris threatening other spacecraft. We are talking about more than 3,000 large pieces of debris and several thousand small pieces of debris. More recently, in 2015, the Chinese acknowledged that they have conducted further ASAT tests using DN-3 missiles.

On the other hand, an ASAT shot is unambiguously a hostile act towards a nation. One is able to know who did it, to detect the origin of the shot, many observers can witness it. All this has a deterrent effect, so that there are practically no ASAT tests.

On the other hand, the most feared threats are those with the most difficult attributions. We are talking about jamming systems. These are invisible attacks, where nothing explodes, no one dies, and no one is aware of them. Unlike ASAT attacks, which are irreversible, jamming attacks are reversible. They can be activated and deactivated at will. This type of threat is really very insidious to deal with.

In the slide in the top right-hand corner, you can see, for example, GPS jammers and SATCOM (satellite communications) jammers that are mounted on trucks. Russia has developed a lot of them and they’ve used them in Ukraine and Syria.

On the left side, we can see another threat to space systems that is very difficult to deal with. These are laser precision weapons that are used to dazzle or blind imaging satellites. It is also another type of attack that is very difficult to deal with.

Crédits : CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

All the examples we have just reviewed show that we have more and more uses that depend on space. And in parallel with this dependence, we realize that space systems are increasingly exposed to threats and vulnerable to attack.

What are the different threats to space systems?

There are four main families of threats to space systems:

  • Kinetic physical threats
  • Non-kinetic physical threats
  • Electronic Threats
  • Cyber threats

Kinetic physical threats

Crédits : CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

Physical kinetic threats are weapons that attempt to strike directly or detonate a warhead in the vicinity of a satellite or ground station. This can be done either by an ascending trajectory ASAT or by an ASAT that crosses the orbit of the target satellite.

A co-orbital ASAT differs from a direct ascent ASAT in that a co-orbital ASAT must first be placed in orbit and then manoeuvred to reach its target. TSOAs can remain dormant in orbit for days or even years before being activated. The guidance system on board such ASATs requires a relatively high level of sophistication and technology as well as significant testing and deployment resources.

Ground stations are more vulnerable than orbiting satellites. They are threatened by more traditional weapons such as military weapons, guided missiles and long-range missiles. Ground stations can also be disrupted indirectly by attacks on the power grid or communications.

Kinetic physical attacks usually have irreversible effects on their targets. They can be attributed more or less easily by identifying the source of the attack. If the attack is successful, its effect is likely to be publicly visible either through orbital debris or through the damaged ground station. All this provides a deterrent to this type of attack.

Non-kinetic physical threats

Crédits : CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

Non-kinetic physical threats represent weapons such as lasers, HPM (high-powered microwave) weapons and EMP (electromagnetic pulse) weapons. These are weapons that have physical effects on their target but do not establish physical contact. These attacks often take place at the speed of light. In most cases, they are invisible and therefore very difficult to attribute.

High-powered lasers can be used to damage or degrade sensitive satellite components such as solar panels. Lasers can
can also be used to temporarily or permanently dazzle sensitive satellite sensors. Targeting a satellite from the Earth with a laser is no small task since the laser passes through the atmospheric layer. This requires a very good quality beam and advanced pointing control, not to mention the sophistication and cost of the technology.

The difficulty for the attacker is that he has a very limited ability to know whether his attack was successful or not.

An HPM-type weapon can be used to disrupt the electronics of a satellite, corrupt the data stored in memory, cause processors to restart, or, at higher power levels, cause irreversible damage to electronic circuits and processors.

Electromagnetic waves, on the other hand, disperse and weaken with distance and the passage through the atmosphere. This is why it is preferable to carry out an HPM-type attack from another satellite in orbit.

Electronic threats

Crédits : CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

Electronic threats are attacks by jamming or usurpation of radio frequency (RF) signals. Jamming is a form of electronic attack that interferes with RF communications by generating noise in the same frequency and field of view as the antenna of the targeted satellite or receiver.

Interference can interfere with either uplinks from the ground to the satellite such as Command and Control communications, or downlinks from the satellite to the ground such as to users (see our article on the components of a satellite C&C system). Jammers can target satellite dishes, GPS receivers, satellite phones.

The technology needed to jam signals is commercially available and relatively inexpensive. Jamming is a reversible form of attack in that, once the jammer is turned off, communications return to normal. Jamming is also an attack that can be difficult to detect or distinguish from accidental interference.

RF signal spoofing is a form of electronic attack in which the attacker traps a receiver by sending a false signal produced by the attacker. Satellite downlink spoofing is a form of electronic attack in which the attacker traps a receiver by sending a false signal produced by the attacker.
can be used to inject false or corrupted data

If an attacker succeeds in usurping the Command and Control signal from an uplink to a satellite, it could take control of the satellite for malicious purposes.

A form of RF signal spoofing attack called “meaconing” allows military GPS signals to be spoofed even if they are encrypted. Meaconing does not require breaking the GPS encryption. It simply rebroadcasts a copy of the signal that is out of time or with altered data.

Cyber threats

Crédits : CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

Unlike electronic attacks that interfere with the transmission of RF signals, cyber attacks target the data itself as well as the systems that use that data. Satellite antennas, antennas of ground stations, communication lines that connect the stations to the terrestrial networks, user terminals that connect to the satellite, are all potential targets for attack and may be subject to intrusion attempts.

Cyber attacks can be used to determine who communicates with whom, to eavesdrop on traffic or to inject corrupted data and malformed packets into systems.

Cyber attacks require a high level of knowledge and understanding of the environment. However, they do not necessarily require very significant resources.

Cyber attacks can be contracted to private groups or individuals, which means that a state or non-state actor lacking internal cyber capabilities can still be a cyber threat.

A cyber attack on a space system can result in loss of data, disruption or even the permanent loss of a satellite. For example, if an adversary manages to take control of a satellite’s Command and Control system, the attacker could cut off all communications, increase its propulsion power, damage its electronic equipment and its sensors and ultimately irreversibly damage the satellite.

Accurately attributing a cyber attack can be difficult, if not impossible. Attackers typically use a variety of methods to conceal their identity,
such as the use of hijacked servers.

Summary of threats to space systems

The two CSIS tables below are a synthesis of threats to space systems. The first summarizes the 4 main threat families with their characteristics.

Crédits : CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

The CSIS table below provides a summary of all the threats we have just looked at and shows that their characteristics vary depending on the type of attack.

Crédits : CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

Our next article will be dedicated to Cyber threats to space systems.


The full Space Threat Assessment 2020 report has been available since April 2020 on the CSIS website.

On the same theme, the Secure World Foundation (SWF) has also published an assessment report on the harmful capacity in space. The report is available on the SWF website.


Back to Turla or how a Russian-speaking cyber-espionage group exploits satellites


Kaspersky Lab experts were the first to reveal in 2015 that the Russian hacker group Turla APT had exploited and hijacked satellite feeds to hide their Command & Control (C&C) servers.

As a reminder, the Turla APT group, also known as Snake or Uroburos, had in 2015 affected more than 500 victims in 45 different countries around the world, including government agencies, military entities and diplomats as the group’s preferred targets.

While satellites are best known as tools for broadcasting and secure communication, they are also used for Internet access. Their services are mainly used in remote locations where all other means of Internet access are either unstable and slow or totally inoperative.

One of the most widespread and inexpensive methods of satellite Internet access is an exclusively downlink, with the uplink being via conventional low-speed Internet access.

The use of a satellite internet connection offers undeniable advantages such as anonymity. Indeed, apart from knowing that you are under satellite coverage, it is very difficult if not impossible to physically know your location.

Another advantage of hijacking satellite links is the low cost of hardware investment. Here, hackers have hijacked a DVB-S satellite link. To hijack this type of link, you need the following items, the cost of which is estimated at less than 1000 euros:

  • A satellite dish, the size of which depends on the geographical position and the satellite.
  • A universal head
  • A dedicated DVB-S tuner (PCIe card)
  • A computer, preferably running Linux

PCIe TBS-6922SE card for DVB-S canal receptionThe method is not new. It goes back to the 2010’s with the Skygrabber software. A person with a PC and a satellite dish can, with the software, intercept downloads requested by Internet users connected to a satellite. Indeed, the downlink transmitted from the satellite in geostationary orbit to the computer was not encrypted at the time.

How a satellite internet connection is hijacked

The SecureList.com site explains the technique very well. The Turla APT group has exploited a weakness of satellite internet connections of the DVB-S type which is that the stream is not encrypted.

Crédits : François Quiquet

The technique used here is not Man-In-The-Middle but IP Spoofing.

  1. The group starts by “listening” to the satellite downlink in order to identify the active IP addresses of the Internet users connected to the satellite.
  2. It chooses a connected IP address to use it to mask a C&C server, without the knowledge of the legitimate user. To do this, he configures the domain name of his Command & Control server to use one of the active IP addresses connected via satellite.
  3. Machines infected with the Turla malware are instructed to filter data to the domain name whose IP addresses correspond to Internet users connected via satellite (hackers use so-called dynamic DNS hosting, which allows them to change the IP address of a domain at will).
  4. The malware on the infected computers then contacts the IP address of the legitimate user connected to the satellite to establish a TCP/IP connection.
  5. The data is routed via conventional lines to the teleports of the satellite Internet service provider, then to the satellite, and finally from the satellite to the user whose IP address has been chosen.
  6. This user’s machine will abandon the connection because the communication is not intended for him (the port chosen by the attackers is not open on the user’s machine).
  7. The same TCP/IP connection request is also sent to the attackers’ Command & Control server, which uses the same IP address and will respond to the infected machine to establish a communication channel and receive the exfiltered data.

Interestingly, as you will have noticed, the legitimate user, whose IP address has been used by hackers to retrieve data from an infected machine, also receives these data packets but hardly notices them. In fact, Turla members instruct infected machines to send data to ports that, in the majority of cases, are closed by default. As a result, the legitimate user’s computer simply discards these packets, while the Turla C&C server, which keeps these ports open, receives and processes the exfiltered data.

The legitimate satellite user will not even notice that his satellite connection has been hijacked unless he checks his event logs and notices packets being discarded by his satellite modem. But this will look more like “Internet noise” than suspicious traffic.

Short explanatory video

The use of satellite links to hide a Command & Control server and control a botnet is not exclusive to Turla APT. Researchers have observed that other APT groups also rely on satellites to manage their malware such as Rocket Kitten or Xumuxu or the Hacking Team in Italy. We’ll talk about this in a future article.

The question now is whether DVB-S satellite internet connections are now encrypted to protect confidentiality and integrity. If anyone has the answer, I’d like to have it as a comment. This will also be the subject of a future article.

Source and technical details on Kaspersky Lab’s SecureList.com website.

Description of the Elements of a Satellite Command and Control System


In order to be able to analyse the various threats and identify the risks facing a space system, it is necessary to describe precisely all the elements that make up the system and the links between them.

Figure 1 shows a simplified example of the network topology of a satellite Command and Control system. It is composed of an operations centre, a base station (or ground station), a ground network and a satellite.

Figure 1: Example of the network topology of a satellite Command and Control system

The base station is the central element of the device. It is through it that the operations centre can communicate with the satellite.

The link between the satellite and the base station carries three different types of information: payload (payload), telemetry (TT&C) and Command & Control (C2).

Malargue station in Argentina, used by the European Space Agency (Crédits : CONAE – CC BY 2.5 ar)

The payload corresponds to the data transported or collected by the satellite and used by the satellite’s customers (images, TV, internet, weather, etc …).

Telemetry corresponds to data sent by the satellite, for example on its position or status. Telemetry is composed of three elements called TT&C for Telemetry, Tracking & Control.

Finally, Command & Control (C2) are instructions sent to the satellite by the operations centre to perform, for example, orbit correction manoeuvres.

KA-SAT geostationary telecommunications satellite built in 2011 by Astrium for the European company Eutelsat. Credits : Wikipedia


A ground station operates 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. It is remotely controlled and operated by the operations centre via IP or serial interfaces. It is capable of communicating with several satellites, requiring repositioning each time.

Space Data Link (SDL) is a protocol used to transport the satellite payload as well as telemetry and Command & Control.

The terrestrial network that connects the base station to the operations centre consists of a link called the Space Link Extension (SLE) Services. The Space Link Extension (SLE) extends the Space Data Link (SDL) from the satellite to the operations centre.

The security of these two protocols will be discussed in a future article.

Control room of ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre, located in Darmstadt, Germany, in charge of monitoring all the space probes that are under the full control of the European Space Agency (ESA) – Crédits : ESA/J.Mai – CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

In the previous network topology, the satellite payload, telemetry (TT&C) and Command & Control (C2) are multiplexed on the same satellite link. In most missions, this link is actually separated into two separate links as shown in Figure 2 with one link to carry the payload and another link to carry the telemetry (TT&C) and Command & Control (C2). On each of the two links is the Space Data Link (SDL) which is extended from the satellite to the operations centre by the Space Link Extension (SLE).

Figure 2: Example of the network topology of a satellite Command and Control system with payload and telemetry link separation

To be even more precise, we have added in the following diagram (Figure 3), a user of the service offered by the satellite. This can be either a passive terminal that only receives a signal (example: a TV decoder) or an active terminal that receives and sends a signal (example: a satellite telephone).

Figure 3: Network topology of a satellite Command and Control system payload, telemetry and customer links

Finally, the last diagram (Figure 4) allows us to identify 3 different sets called segments that make up most spacecraft Command and Control systems.

The Ground Segment is composed of all the elements on the ground that are used for telemetry, Command and Control and payload distribution. The Ground Segment consists of the base stations, the operations centre and the ground network. The ground segment also includes all test, integration and launch systems when the mission also includes a launcher.

The Space Segment is composed of the satellite (or constellation of satellites), the uplink and downlink. In some models, the satellite links may be part of a separate segment called the Space-Link Communications Segment.

The User Segment consists of all user equipment that receives the signal from the satellite but can also transmit a signal to the satellite.

Figure 4: Simplified diagram representing the 3 segments of a satellite Command and Control system

These three segments together will represent the scope of our risk analysis of a space system, which will be the subject of a future article.

For this article, we have studied the presentation by Ignacio Aguilar Sanchez (ESA) and Daniel Fischer (ESA) available here.

First CTF in space with Hack-A-Sat: the US Air Force launches a Bug Bounty and invites hackers to hack one of their satellites in orbit

SpaceX Dragon capsule during its approach to the ISS (Photo credits: NASA)

It was the TechCrunch site that revealed the information. The U.S. Air Force will launch a bug bounty program in the form of a CTF (Capture The Flag) whose goal is to hack a real satellite in orbit above the Earth.

Last year, at the famous Defcon cyber security conference, the US Air Force had already asked hackers to hack one of their F-15 fighter planes. And they succeeded! The results, which were not made public, proved to be very interesting according to the organisers.

It was the first time that hackers were allowed to penetrate US Air Force systems and physically access the F-15 system to look for vulnerabilities.

The Washington Post revealed that in just two days, a team of seven hackers managed to discover several critical vulnerabilities that, if exploited in the real world, could have crippled the aircraft’s systems, causing potentially very serious damage.

U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle (photo crédits : U.S. Air Force – Senior Airman Erin Trowe)

Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the US Air Force, said at the time: “I left this event thinking that there was a huge national asset in this level of cyber expertise that the US Air Force is sorely lacking”.

Indeed, for years, the US Air Force has historically kept the security of its systems and technology in absolute secrecy, fearing espionage or sabotage by the enemy. “It was like being stuck in the business practices of the Cold War. But in today’s world, this is not the best security posture,” Roper said.

Following the success of this first initiative, the US Air Force decided to repeat the experience and call again on security researchers at the Aerospace Village of the 2020 Defcon28. This time it will involve hacking into a real satellite in orbit, hovering miles above the earth’s surface.

Crédits : hachasat.com

Will Roper reminds us that satellites, even if they are far from earth, face real threats. Among these, he cites the possibility of using “anti-satellite” weapons to jam, blind or even prevent devices from communicating with their base stations.

It is not only the satellites in orbit that are threatened. Earth stations and communication links between earth and sky could be as vulnerable as the satellites themselves, Roper said.

This year’s program is called “Hack-A-Sat“, a space security program that involves attacking an actual satellite in orbit and spotting bugs and vulnerabilities that could be exploited by the enemy.

Teaser vidéo

This is a paradigm shift for the US Air Force, which until now has been used to building closed and locked systems. By moving to semi-open systems, it opens up “satellite” technology to the wider community, while reserving the highest ranked technology for its in-house experts and engineers.

The aim of this initiative is not only to fix existing bugs but also to consolidate the supply chain to prevent the introduction of new bugs,” adds Will Roper.

How to register?

The rules of participation in “Hack-A-Sat” have been published in detail on the hackasat.com website (see PDF). The registration form has been online since April 22nd.

Qualifying events

The first step is to take part in the qualifying events which will be held online from 22 May. Candidates will have to take up several challenges by hacking a test satellite in the form of a kit and solve as many challenges as possible in 48 hours. The end of the qualification tests is scheduled for 24 May.

The goal of the qualifying rounds is to identify the best and keep only the “cream of the crop,” as Will Roper explains.

Crédits : hachasat.com

What is the final event?

Only the top 10 teams will qualify for the final event at the Defcon 2020 conference in Las Vegas in August. The challenge of the final event has been revealed. Besides the fact that the hackers will have to attack a real satellite, they will also have to try to hack its camera and take a picture of the Moon as proof (the famous “flag”). The first three teams will receive prizes ranging from $20,000 to $50,000.

With the current Coronavirus Pandemic continuing, the organizers could hold the final event remotely. In addition to hoping that hackers will find vulnerabilities, the event also aims to raise awareness at the highest level within the US Air Force and change the way they think about security.

Will Roper hopes that in the future, the US Air Force will think about working differently, using the hacker community more often when designing a satellite. “If this future generation becomes a reality, then we’ll be in a much better cyber position. »

For more information

For those who are interested and want to know more about the “Hack-A-Sat” program, the organizers have written a FAQ.


Crédits : hachasat.com

Back to the lastest “In-Flight Abort Test” from SpaceX before the first manned flight on May 27, 2020

The Crew Dragon capsule separating from its Falcon 9 rocket, 84 seconds after liftoff, using its SuperDraco thrusters to move away from the rocket to test its ability to escape a faulty booster. (Credits: SpaceX)

On Sunday, January 19, 2020, the last big test for SpaceX, Elon Musk’s company, took place successfully. It was to simulate a failure of the launcher and to carry out an emergency ejection of the unmanned Crew Dragon capsule, a few minutes after launch. This test is called an “In-Flight Abort Test”.

The test took place at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The mission went perfectly well (see video below) and was successfully completed. The Crew Dragon capsule is launched by a Falcon 9 rocket and powered by SuperDraco engines mounted in pairs.

Below is a Twitter video showing the moment of ejection of the launcher capsule.

This mission is ordered to SpaceX by NASA in order to give the United States back its autonomy in the access to manned space flights. It was therefore a crucial test for NASA.

Full video of the security test

The chronology of the test is as follows:

  • 00:00 – Liftoff of the launcher (17:58 of the video)
  • 01:28 – Crew Dragon capsule ejected (19:24 of the video)
  • 01:37 – Launcher explodes (19:35 of the video)
  • 02:35 – Release of the ejection stage (20:23 of the video)
  • 04:44 – Opening of the 2 small parachutes (22:42 of the video)
  • 05:33 – Opening of the 4 large parachutes (23:32 of the video)
  • 08:56 – Ditching of the capsule (26:55 of the video)

The next flight of the Dragon Crew will be a manned flight. It will be a great return for the Americans with the first manned flight since the space shuttle program was shut down after two serious accidents.

Space Shuttle Atlantis at Launchpad 39A in Cape Canaveral, Florida (Photo credits: Dave Mosher)

Since the last flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis in 2011, Americans have been forced to use the services of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to fly their astronauts into space and back and forth with the International Space Station (ISS).

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin on the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 11 October 2018. The rocket stopped in mid-flight, but an evacuation system saved the crew. (Photo credits: Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters)

The next launch of the Falcon 9 and the Crew Dragon capsule will take place at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, where Space Shuttle Atlantis last lifted off. It will be a manned flight with American astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken as passengers. This mission will take place on May 27, 2020.

This very special mission will be extremely well attended. It will be the subject of a future article.

Hack-A-Sat Challenge, a satellite hacking challenge from the Us Air Force, shifts to fully virtual event


It’s official, DEF CON 28, the famous international hackers conference, becomes virtual, as does the Hack-A-Sat event, the US Air Force program that invites hackers to hack one of their satellites in orbit (see our article on this subject).

The organisers are putting in place all the logistics necessary to make this virtual experience as user-friendly as possible for the spectators. It will thus be possible to follow the satellite hacking competition from a distance wherever you are.

The dates for the final event are still set for 7-9 August 2020. All information is available on hackasat.com.

As a reminder, to be able to participate in the final round of the satellite hacking contest, you must have passed the qualifying rounds which starts on May 22nd and be in the first eight teams.

The clock is ticking… so hurry up and register at hackasat.com.

If you’re wondering why we’re looking to hack a satellite, then go to our article about the Hack-a-Sat program to read and understand the whole story.

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Find below the new Space Cyber Security Watch No 7 (November 7, 2021). In this paper, you will find everything that has caught our...

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Cartographie des acteurs étatiques du cyber en France

Avec l'aimable autorisation de Martial Le Guédard, nous reproduisons ci-dessous sa cartographie au sujet des différents acteurs étatiques évoluant dans le domaine du Cyber...

Qu’est-ce que le grand Commandement De l’Espace (CDE) créé par la France pour la...

Le Commandement De l’Espace (CDE) a été créé par arrêté le 3 septembre 2019. Il succède au Commandement interarmées de l’espace (CIE). Il rassemble...

Description of the Elements of a Satellite Command and Control System

In order to be able to analyse the various threats and identify the risks facing a space system, it is necessary to describe precisely...

Cartographie des acteurs français et européens de la cybersécurité satellitaire et spatiale

La France est leader de la politique spatiale en Europe. Elle met en oeuvre des projets innovants et performants avec en permanence de nouveaux...

Etude sur la cybersécurité des systèmes spatiaux : menaces, vulnérabilités et risques

A la différence des attaques électroniques qui interférent avec la transmission des signaux de Radio Fréquence, les cyberattaques visent quant à elles, les données...