Hacking The High Ground

Not content to merely cyberattack our civilian and military computer systems every second of every day, the Chinese have now taken their hacking attacks to a whole new, higher level.

Chinese Military Suspected in Hacker Attacks on U.S. Satellites

Computer hackers, possibly from the Chinese military, interfered with two U.S. government satellites four times in 2007 and 2008 through a ground station in Norway, according to a congressional commission.

The intrusions on the satellites, used for earth climate and terrain observation, underscore the potential danger posed by hackers, according to excerpts from the final draft of the annual report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. The report is scheduled to be released next month.

“Such interference poses numerous potential threats, particularly if achieved against satellites with more sensitive functions,” according to the draft. “Access to a satellite‘s controls could allow an attacker to damage or destroy the satellite. An attacker could also deny or degrade as well as forge or otherwise manipulate the satellite’s transmission.”

See also:
Hackers Interfered With Two U.S. Satellites, Draft Report Says
Hackers Interfered With 2 US Government Satellites
Hackers reportedly behind U.S. government satellite disruptions
Hackers Targeted U.S. Government Satellites
Chinese military may have hacked US satellites
China may have hacked US satellites
Hackers Targeted U.S. Government Satellites
U.S. satellites tampered by hackers
Hackers interfered with two U.S. satellites, report says
Chinese hackers suspected of interfering with US satellites
New hacker target: Government satellites
Chinese hackers may have attacked U.S. satellites
China suspect in US satellite interference: report
US reportedly attacked by Chinese hackers linked with the military
US Satellites hacked by Chinese Military says Congressional Commission

Given their ongoing and constant obsession with conducting cyberwarfare, it’s hardly surprising that the Chinese would be interested in attacking satellites. After all, in the event of hostilities, taking out the enemy’s satellites would effectively render them “blind”. The U.S. military is particularly dependent on satellite technology for communication and navigation, so it would only be logical for the Chinese, either by hacking or with kinetic strikes, to attempt to neutralize our satellite network and with it our technological advantage. The question is, what are we doing to counter this extremely obvious and serious threat?

/does anyone still remember how to navigate using a map and compass?

Advertisements

It Is Heavy And Obama Can’t Cancel It

Obama may have killed the Constellation program, but he can’t stop SpaceX.

Huge Private Rocket Could Send Astronauts to the Moon or Mars

A massive new private rocket envisioned by the commercial spaceflight company SpaceX could do more than just ferry big satellites and spacecraft into orbit. It could even help return astronauts to the moon, the rocket’s builder says.

SpaceX announced plans to build the huge rocket, called the Falcon Heavy, yesterday (April 5). To make the new booster, SpaceX will upgrade its Falcon 9 rockets with twin strap-on boosters and other systems to make them capable of launching larger payloads into space than any other rocket operating today.

But the Falcon Heavy’s increased power could also be put toward traveling beyond low-Earth orbit and out into the solar system, said SpaceX’s founder and CEO Elon Musk during a Tuesday press conference.

See also:
SpaceX Unveils Plans for Falcon Heavy, World’s Largest Rocket
SpaceX announces Falcon Heavy: a low-cost, heavy-lifting, 22-story rocket
SpaceX unveils plans for Falcon heavy lift rocket
Space privateers to launch biggest rocket since 70s
SpaceX preps world’s largest rocket. It’s low cost, too
The Tech Behind the New SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket
SpaceX’s ‘Falcon Heavy’ Most Powerful Private Rocket Ever
SpaceX shoots for ‘next big thing’
SpaceX unveils heavy launcher
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation
SpaceX
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation – Falcon Heavy
Falcon Heavy

If the Falcon Heavy becomes operational and performs as expected, this rocket will be able to lift a heavier payload into space than any other rocket ever built, other than the Saturn V behemoth.

/Wernher von Braun would be proud

Peek A Boo, We See You

This could come in handy. You know, if Obama actually lets us develop those “unproven missile defense systems“.

U.S. achieves the ‘Holy Grail’ of missile defense

A pair of low Earth-orbiting demonstration satellites built by Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems for the first time on March 16 detected and tracked a ballistic missile launch through all phases of flight, a Northrop Grumman official said March 22.

So-called birth-to-death tracking of a ballistic missile launch had never been done before from space and is the most significant achievement to date for the Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) spacecraft, said Doug Young, Northrop Grumman’s vice president of missile defense and warning programs.

“It’s the Holy Grail for missile defense,” Young said during a media briefing here.

See also:
U.S. Military Satellites Achieve ‘Holy Grail’ of Missile Defense
For the First Time, Satellites Track a Ballistic Missile Through All Phases of Flight
U.S.reports ballistic missile defense breakthrough
Satellites track complete missile flight
‘Holy Grail’ of Missile Defense Reached
Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS)
Raytheon Company: Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS)Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS)
Space Tracking and Surveillance System

With Iran and North Korea well on their way to developing the technology to deliver nuclear tipped missiles, having STSS in service makes for a great orbiting security blanket. Of course, it’s only useful in conjunction with a robust ballistic missile defense system, a system Obama seems loathe to fully fund. We have the capability within our grasp to protect ourselves and our allies against rogue missile attacks, if only we have the commitment to build and deploy the necessary BMD systems.

/domestic bliss and tranquility mean absolutely nothing without national security

Russian Satellites Go For A Swim

Whoops, that’s a pretty expensive program error.

Program error caused Russian Glonass satellite loss – source

A program error caused a Russian Proton-M carrier rocket to deviate from its course and lose a booster carrying three Glonass-M satellites, a source in the Russian space industry said on Monday.

Sunday’s launch of the Proton-M carrier rocket was supposed to deliver satellites for the completion of Russia’s Glonass satellite navigation system.

However, the rocket, which blasted off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, deviated from its course by 8 degrees, resulting in the loss of the DM-3 booster with the satellites. According to unofficial reports, the spacecraft fell into the Pacific Ocean to the northwest of Hawaii.

“According to preliminary information, there were no technical problems with the Proton itself during lift-off. A range of specialists consider that program errors in Proton’s onboard computer led to the engines failing to function as normal, giving the rocket an extra boost and taking it into the wrong orbit,” the source said.

See also:
Crash Hurts Russia Satellite Challenge to U.S. GPS
Russia’s $2 billion project to rival America’s GPS suffers setback
Satellite failure leaves Russia without Glonass network
Russia begins investigation into satellite launch failure (video)
Russian launch fails to put three nav satellites in orbit
Rocket booster behind Russia’s space launch failure
Computer crashed Russian satellites
Russian satellites crash after failed launch
Reports: Russian satellites fall into Pacific
Glonass Satellites Crash Into Pacific
Proton-M carrier rocket loses booster with three Glonass-M satellites

Boy, I’d sure hate to be one of the people responsible for that “program error”.

/I hear Siberia is not so nice this time of year

The World’s Largest Spy Is Listening

Shhh, it’s a secret.

Spying from Space: U.S. Launches World’s Largest Satellite

The United States has just launched the largest satellite ever to orbit earth; while its exact purpose is secret, we know it’s not going to be monitoring the weather.

Its mission will be to gather intelligence for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.

The satellite, dubbed NROL-32, was sent into orbit yesterday by a Delta 4 Heavy rocket —the largest unmanned rocket with the most powerful liquid-fueled booster. U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Director Bruce Carlson said the NROL-32 would be “the largest satellite in the world.”

All this superlative hugeness isn’t likely just a result of Americans’ obsession with size; in fact, the NRO launches almost as many small vehicles into space as it does large ones. More to the point, however, NROL-32 has a very important job: replacing a slew of Cold War-era satellites currently in orbit past their expiration dates.

Carlson gave an address (links to a PDF that’s a good read on the bureaucracy of space) last month in which he stated that the agency had adopted a new charter and “a remarkably aggressive launch campaign” to go along with it.

See also:
U.S. Launches Largest Surveillance Satellite
U.S. Launches Largest-Ever Spy Satellite: Report
World’s Largest Satellite Launched On Sunday
Classified spy satellite launched from Fla.
Delta IV Blasts Off with NRO Satellite
Spy satellite called world’s largest
‘Eavesdropper’ satellite rides huge rocket from Florida
Air Force Launches Massive, Secret Spy Satellite
US launches giant eavesdropping satellite
“National Reconnaissance Office Update”
National Reconnaissance Office
National Reconnaissance Office

My guess is that this is a very large communications vacuum cleaner and there’s a very good chance and that no electronic communication on the planet is safe from interception.

/of course, theoretically, the NRO isn’t allowed to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens, but can the satellite tell the difference?

The Sun Is Angry

Don’t forget to duck.

Huge blasts of sun’s plasma hurtling toward Earth

A huge mass of magnetically charged material ejected from the sun is racing across space toward our planet, where it is expected to arrive on Tuesday. When it strikes the Earth’s magnetic field, it could produce spectacular auroras.

A blast of violent space weather could hit the Earth tomorrow following two massive explosions on the Sun. NASA astronomers witnessed a huge flare above a giant sunspot the size of our planet and linked to an even larger eruption across the surface of Sun.

Experts estimate a wave of supercharged gas called plasma will reach us this Tuesday when it will buffet the natural magnetic shield protecting Earth. It could trigger spectacular displays of the aurora or northern and southern lights.

The solar outbursts on Sunday August 1 were recorded by several satellites including NASA’s new Solar Dynamics Observatory which watched its shockwave rippling outwards. The flare over the sunspot was swiftly followed by an eruption 250,000 miles (400,000 km) away in a feature called a filament.

UK solar expert Dr Lucie Green, of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, in Surrey, followed the flare-ups using Japan’s orbiting Hinode telescope.

She said last night: “What wonderful fireworks the Sun has been producing! This was a very rare event – not one, but two almost simultaneous eruptions from different locations on the sun were launched toward the Earth.

“These eruptions occur when immense magnetic structures in the solar atmosphere lose their stability and can no longer be held down by the sun’s huge gravitational pull. Just like a coiled spring suddenly being released, they erupt into space.

“It looks like the first eruption was so large that it changed the magnetic fields throughout half the Sun’s visible atmosphere and provided the right conditions for the second eruption. Both eruptions could be Earth-directed but may be travelling at different speeds. This means we have a very good chance of seeing major and prolonged effects, such as the northern lights at low latitudes.”

. . .

Scientists have warned that a really big solar eruption, like the Carrington Event witnessed from Surrey in 1859, could destroy satellites and wreck power and around the globe if it happened today.

Such an event would be the biggest disaster ever to hit mankind, preventing the production of essential supplies including food, water and medicines. Other eruptions have been observed directed towards us but thankfully less severe.

See also:
Coronal Mass Ejection Headed for Earth
Here comes the sun storm
Large solar storm headed our way
Solar plasma aurora storm to hit Earth tomorrow!
Solar Tsunami to Strike Earth Tonight
Solar light show expected tonight
Northern lights may shine in local skies
Solar blast may fire up Northern Lights
Northern lights could be visible from UK as Sun’s ‘solar tsunami’ sweeps towards Earth
Sun storms may bring northern lights farther south
Coronal Mass Ejection on Sun, Effects Can Be Seen in New England

So, enjoy the light show if it’s visible where you’re at and let’s hope we don’t suffer any fried satellites.

/eventually, the sun will destroy life on Earth and the Earth itself, but apparently not today

Gunfight At The D.C. Corral

Check out candidate “Judgment to Lead” Obama, back in the day, talking smack at McCain and getting his Afghanistan hawk on, “taking the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan . . . I will make the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be, this is a war we have to win . . . we cannot lose Afghanistan to a future of narco-terrorism . . . we need more troops, more helicopters, more satellites, more Predator drones, in the Afghan border region”

Well, we’re about to find out if Obama really does have a commitment to winning in Afghanistan or if his campaign pronouncements were just so much more bull[expletive deleted] spewing out of his yap. Because, ruh roh, watch out, Obama’s Democrat fellow travelers in Congress are donning there chicken suits and getting ready to run their tidy whities up the flagpole.

Senate Armed Services Chairman: No More U.S. Troops to Afghanistan

The debate whether to send more combat troops to Afghanistan took a twist reminiscent of the Iraq conflict when the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Friday advised not sending any more U.S. combat troops to Afghanistan beyond those already approved by President Obama until more Afghan security forces are trained.

Speaking on the eighth anniversary of the date the United States was attacked by terrorists trained in Afghanistan, Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., also called for a shift in U.S. efforts toward more trainers, who could, in part, be supplied by NATO allies. He said he would like a plan for Afghanistan that would replicate the “Sons of Iraq” strategy to separate low and mid-level Taliban fighters in Afghanistan from the leadership of that terrorist group.

The Afghan Waver

Sometime soon, Mr. Obama will have to respond to Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal’s likely request to increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan.

This past Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave the most explicit suggestion so far that Democrats may oppose any such request. “I don’t think there is a great deal of support for sending more troops to Afghanistan,” Speaker Pelosi said, “in the country or in Congress.”

Feingold wants timetable for moving U.S. troops out of Afghanistan

Sen. Russ Feingold on Monday ratcheted up criticism for President Barack Obama’s plan to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan and began calling for a timetable to get the troops out of the country.

“After eight years, I am not convinced that simply pouring more and more troops into Afghanistan is a well-thought-out strategy,” Feingold said during an editorial board meeting with the Appleton Post-Crescent.

See also:
Levin: Let’s train more Afghan forces
Senator Calls for More Afghan Forces, Not US Troops
Levin complicates Obama’s Afghan strategy
Congress wary of more US Afghanistan troops-Pelosi
Pelosi: Afghan surge lacks support
Doubt raised on troop boost in Afghanistan war
Feingold opposes Obama on troops to Afghanistan
Feingold questions Afghanistan military strategy
Democrats in Congress grow uneasy over Afghanistan

And if there wasn’t enough tension between Obama and the Democrats in Congress, now along comes the Afghanistan NATO/U.S. Commander, General Stanley McChrystal, to make the request for more troops. Caution, Democrat fratricide Xing, next several months.

Afghanistan: Gen. Stanley McChrystal Delivers Review of U.S. Operation

President Obama has already called for more than 20,000 additional troops in Afghanistan to more than 68,000 troops by year’s end. McChrystal’s assessment team had recommended as many as six more brigades, which could mean about 30,000 more troops.

McChrystal is expected to request more troops , although it is not known whether he will ask for as many, or even more than his assessment team recommended. Whatever the number, it will be hotly debated throughout Washington and could put the president in an uncomfortable position. Given Obama’s criticism of the Bush administration’s handling of the war, accusing the former president of failing to properly fund the war, it would be difficult for Obama to turn down the requests of a new commander who is tasked with turning things around. . . .

See also:
Officials: McChrystal to Request More Resources to Fight Taliban in Afghanistan
Request for more troops in Afghanistan likely, source says
More Troops Likely Needed in Afghanistan
Obama to Weigh Buildup Option in Afghan War
The Taliban Is Serious About Winning In Afghanistan, Are We?

/so, will Obama stick to his “we have to win” promise to protect the American people by following his military commanders’ advice and send more troops to Afghanistan, or will he “wee wee it up” and cave in to the bed wetting, cut and run Congressional Democrats, tuck his tail between his legs, and wave the white flag of surrender in Afghanistan?