Bandwidth usage appears to be an export control loophole.
The US restricts the export of satellite technology to China (and to other countries as well). But apparently services delivered by satellite are less rigorously controlled. An investigative piece in the Wall Street Journal describes how China has been able rent bandwidth on US satellites and apply it to communications in disputed areas. The article calls out Boeing and the Carlyle Group as two witting or unwitting enablers of the dodge, but the problem clearly extends beyond any two companies. The argument in favor of selling bandwidth has been that the trade is so lucrative that profit from it would be reinvested in ways that maintain an American technological edge. It was also assumed that the services would be used for benign, essentially civilian purposes, "like broadcasting sports." The reality has proven a bit more problematic, as the satellites have enabled military and security communications that served both international assertion and domestic repression.
Hong Kong is semi-autonomous, and is treated differently from the rest of China by US export regulations. And the satellite bandwidth passes through a Hong Kong firm, AsiaSat, which serves as a reseller and effectively a cutout for users in the rest of China, prominently including the Peoples Liberation Army. Critics of the arrangement hope there's an kill-switch built into the system, to lie there unobtrusively until the US needs it.
A military tech-sharing agreement modeled on the Five Eyes.
A report by William Greenwalt, former deputy undersecretary of defense for industrial policy, takes up a different export control problem. If it's too easy to sell satellite bandwidth to China, it seems to hard to trade innovative technology among the Five Eyes, that is, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Greenwalt proposes rule changes that would allow the US and its closest allies to share crucial military technologies with each other (Breaking Defense). It would update the National Technology and Industrial Base for an era of renewed great power competition, and it would use the Five Eyes intelligence cooperation regime as a model for a new approach to the National Technology and Industrial Base. (Four of the Five Eyes are already encompassed by existing policy and legislation surrounding the National Technology and Industrial Base. Only New Zealand is outside looking in.)
Greenwalt offers four recommendations:
"Establish a governing body of NTIB members to address harmonization of industrial-base issues."
"Harmonize technology-transfer laws, regulations, policies, and practices to establish an integrated defense-industrial base."
"To the maximum extent practicable, limit socioeconomic and acquisition process barriers to cooperation."
"NTIB industrial-base approaches should serve as a test bed for innovations in international cooperation, be applied on a case-by-case basis to other close allies, and further civil-military integration between Silicon Valley and the Department of Defense."
As interesting as the recommendations are the three problems he argues the current NTIB poses for US technological development:
"First, there is a residual US focus on Cold War technologies that have long since proliferated to US adversaries, leaving allies with the burden of compliance. Changing business practices, such as the outsourcing of logistics and maintenance activities to the private sector, have exacerbated this compliance burden. Second, export contamination—or the so-called “ITAR taint”—and the extraterritorial application of US export-control laws limit the industrial base available to US defense programs, and has incentivized both allies and the commercial market to develop their own solutions that deliberately avoid US technology and persons. The third is the emerging possibility that other countries will incorporate the most intrusive parts of US export-control systems into their systems. As foreign technologies become increasingly important, this mirror imaging of export-control process around US standards could eventually have a dramatic impact on US operations by placing limitations on the use of foreign technology" (Leveraging the National Technology and Industrial Base to Address Great Power Competition)."
Bringing greater flexibility to satellite operations.
Air Force Space Command leaders speaking at the 35th Space Symposium discussed their plans for coming up with more flexible and cost-effective approaches to satellite communications. Congress has long been uneasy with what critics perceived as the stovepiped rigidity of the Air Force's approach to this family of technologies. A new satellite communications strategy is expected from the Air Force later this year. It's expected to feature close partnership with industry to move innovative and adaptable solutions more quickly to initial operational capability (Via Satellite).
Some of that flexibility will come from satellites designed to receive new missions while in orbit (C4ISRNET). New, readily adaptable ground stations are envisioned as an important element of the sought-after mission agility and resilience (Breaking Defense). And at the tactical level, integration of satellite communications into the Defense Department's enterprise management and control vision is seen as a must (ExecutiveBiz). The community is being called to move away from a model in which systems are designed competitively to preclude interoperation toward a more collaborative and flexible design approach (C4ISRNET).
Commercial satcom services are moving toward greater flexibility as well. This can be seen in the increasingly common practice of selling the services into the civilian aviation market on an hourly pricing model (Get Connected).
SpaceX received FCC approval to fly the satellites it intends to use for its 1500-spacecraft Starlink Internet-delivering constellation (Verge). It's an ambitious project, but the company is raising the money it needs to carry it out (Wall Street Journal).
The Air Force remains committed to its Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared program. The Service is working to reprogram $623 to support Next-Gen OPIR (Inside Defense).
A new ISAC aims to facilitate cyber information-sharing across the space sector.
Among the other announcements at the 35th Space Symposium held in Colorado Springs at the beginning of April was the formation of a Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center, S-ISAC. The new ISAC will be formed within the National Cybersecurity Center in Colorado Springs, which is itself close by Schriever Air Force Base and its National Space Defense Center (CyberScoop). ISACs are sector-specific public-private partnerships designed to facilitate risk information sharing and collective defense against a full spectrum of threats to the members' cybersecurity. Companies working in the space sector will be encouraged to make the acquaintance of S-ISAC, which will in all probability work with sister organizations in the National Council of ISACs.
S-ISAC can be expected to complement the supply chain cybersecurity measures the Department of Defense is working to deliver to smaller contractors (FedTech).
Traditional acquisition and rapid acquisition.
Litigation has cleared the way for the Department of Defense to move forward with its multi-billion-dollar JEDI cloud acquisition program (Washington Business Journal). Amazon and Microsoft are the two competitors (Nextgov).
Cybersecurity products, services, and solutions continue to attract the attention of Services' and agencies' fast-track, non-traditional acquisition paths. GSA has updated Schedule 70 with its Highly Adaptive Cybersecurity Services Special Item Number (Fifth Domain). The Air Force has developed an alternative to the notoriously sclerotic authority-to-operate process (Federal News Network), and the Army is awarding up to $982 million for cyber research and development under its R4 contract vehicle (Fifth Domain)
Space junk and space operations.
Concerns raised by India's test of an anti-satellite interceptor last month are still on US military leaders' minds. The Indian test shot down a decommissioned satellite in low earth orbit. The debris was at a lower altitude than many critical assets (like the International Space Station) but a number of observers and policymakers denounced the shoot-down as risky and irresponsible. (US Strategic Command is said by Reuters to be tracking two-hundred-fifty fragments of satellite and interceptor the exercise,"Mission Shakti," produced. India's embassy in Washington said the test was conducted in the "upper atmosphere" so as to leave no trash behind, but that's not the story Strategic Command's radars are telling. And, "Who are you gonna believe, me or your lyin' radars" isn't likely to be a winning diplomatic démarche, even among friends.)
On April 11th Air Force General John Hyten brought the matter up in testimony before Congress. His point was essentially an environmental one: if nations keep flinging junk into orbit, eventually we'll find our access to space severely restricted. “If we keep creating debris in space, eventually we are going to get to the point where it’s very difficult to find a place to launch, very difficult to find a place to put a satellite, to operate a satellite without having to maneuver it all the time to keep it away from debris," General Hyten testified. He proposes developing workable international norms to keep the vicinity of earth as garbage-free as possible. "All of those things are complicated and have to be worked in an international perspective,” he said (CNBC).
SpaceX has been thinking about the problem of debris in planning for its 1500-satellite Starlink constellation: the plan the FCC approved this month involved the satellites orbiting at half the altitude originally planned, the better to ensure that any defunct spacecraft quickly reenter safely (Ars Technica).
Space traffic and space jams.
Operational satellites have also been seen passing closer to one another than many operators are comfortable with. There's even some jostling going on in geosynchronous orbit, although that seems more a matter of intentional Russian and American maneuvering than it does overcrowding (Breaking Defense). But up there, ten kilometers amounts to arm's length.
How to keep track of all the things in orbit.
The Joint Mission System (JMS) designed to give the US military Space Situational Awareness is widely regarded as a troubled if not outright failed program. To provide an alternative source of Space Situational Awareness, the Air Force has decided to upgrade Space Defense Operations Center (SPADOC), which has been operating at Cheyenne Mountain since 1979. Raytheon got the contract, and is proud of having taken the work from concept to proven solution in less than a year (Space Daily). SPADOC has been revived and extended beyond its planned end-of-life, and it may persist long enough for integration into the coming Space Fence, the centerpiece of which is planned to be a system of ground-based S-band radars, and into the still-taking-shape Enterprise Space Battle Management Command and Control (ESBMC2) (Breaking Defense). ESBMC2's future direction is still hazy, but it may be foreshadowed by a contract the Air Force has given Slingshot Aerospace to develop its Orbital Atlas predictive space situational awareness software for military use. Orbital Atlas is a commercially developed, artificially intelligent system that will be tested at Vandenberg and Schriever Air Force Bases (Space News).
New space race update.
The prospective leaders of the incipient US Space Command are already looking toward muscular deterrence and operations in cislunar space (Breaking Defense).
America's return to the moon looks as if it will ride a Falcon Heavy (Computing). SpaceX has achieved successful flights and recoveries with the heavy-lift booster, and, despite a setback during testing of its Dragon capsule (no injuries during the accident) seems likely to beat Boeing to commercial crewed spaceflight (Ars Technica).
China says it intends to build a moonbase within the decade, and they're eyeing a location near the moon's south pole for their research base (New York Post). Why the south pole? Probably, observers hint darkly, because Beijing would like to hog the water there.
"I live in Colorado Springs. I only work in cislunar space."
The new Service appears headed for eventual approval. Many companies are looking forward to a windfall as Space Force begins to contract for the systems and services it will need (Defense One).
Right now Colorado Springs seems to be the frontrunner (with competition from California, Florida, Alabama, Virginia, Texas, and Louisiana--all except the final entrant have obvious competing claims) for Space Command's terrestrial home (UPI).
Today's edition of the CyberWire reports events affecting China, the European Union, Japan, the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States.
North Korea test-fires a new tactical guided weapon(Military Times) North Korea said it test-fired a new type of “tactical guided weapon” in an announcement Thursday that was possibly an attempt to register displeasure with the deadlock in nuclear talks with the United States without causing those coveted negotiations to collapse.
The New Revolution in Military Affairs(Foreign Affairs) For the U.S. military to succeed on the battlefields of the future, it will need a force built around large numbers of small, inexpensive, expendable, and highly autonomous systems.
The Air Force Launch Plan Must Work(Breaking Defense) The Air Force has no choice but to pursue the current Launch Services Agreement. The plan is to have the three current launch partners — United Launch Alliance, Northrop Grumman and Blue Origin — work on a $2.3 billion effort to design three space launch variations.
JEDI procurement moving forward after judge lifts stay(Washington Business Journal) The Pentagon is one step closer to awarding its massive $10 billion cloud computing contract after a federal claims court judge on Monday lifted a stay placed on the procurement process.
GAO Denies Protest Over $55M Deloitte Army Cyber Deal(Law360) The Government Accountability Office on Tuesday denied MacAulay-Brown's protest over a nearly $55 million Army cyber analytics deal awarded to Deloitte, saying it has "no basis to question" the Army's evaluation of Deloitte's proposed price, which was millions less than MacAulay-Brown's.
SAIC increases space startup collaboration(SpaceNews.com) Josh Jackson, executive vice president and general manager of SAIC’s Solutions and Technology Group, said SAIC is working with around a dozen startups through accelerators in Austin, Texas and Colorado Springs, Colorado, to make their technology more available to U.S. government customers.
Thales is selected by Switzerland for an image intelligence system(Geospatial World) Switzerland: Switzerland has selected Thales for an image intelligence system — drawing on their expertise in advanced multi-source data analysis technologies, Thales is optimally positioned, according to the company, to support governments in their fight against constantly evolving threats. Thales develops systems that governments need to maintain surveillance and identify and assess the ever-expanding array …
Parsons makes IPO filing public(Washington Technology) After months of SEC review, Parsons Corp. makes its registration for an initial public offering available for all to see.
New Space ISAC plans to elevate the industry's awareness of cyberthreats(CyberScoop) At a time when corporations are planning to blanket the heavens with high-tech hardware, the space industry is responding with the creation of an information sharing and analysis center — a nonprofit organization that helps to track cyberthreats for member companies and related government agencies. The Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center (S-ISAC) will be housed in Colorado Springs, Colorado, within the National Cybersecurity Center, itself a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization created to improve awareness about securing cyberspace.
It’s time for military SATCOM to adapt(C4ISRNET) To maintain superiority in an increasingly competitive global military landscape, new network architecture must be enabled to assure resilient, uninterrupted communications from any location at any time.
Ground Stations Can Boost Mix Of Small & Exquisite Sats: Raytheon(Breaking Defense) Modern space strategy, with its focus on resilience, requires “understanding the capabilities of each satellite and managing them as a constellation:” Jane Chappell, vice president of Raytheon's Global Intelligence Solutions (GIS) mission area.
USAF and Raytheon to modernize space debris tracking system(Intelligent Aerospace) The U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and a consortium of tech firms led by Raytheon are modernizing and simplifying the legacy Space Defense Operations Center, a 1990s-era system that tracks and monitors space debris.
How agencies can protect legacy IT as they modernize(Fifth Domain) As the federal space makes the jump to the cloud and focuses on attracting young talent, there’s a real fear that mission-critical systems will become unprotected while the people that understand them become scarce.
What the Air Force learned from insurgents’ networks(C4ISRNET) Air Force leaders plan to experiment this summer with a mesh network that would allow military users in hard-to-reach areas to connect to the service’s top secret network and share intelligence information without the fear of losing service.
China pledges to have first moon base within a decade(New York Post) The Chinese space agency has spent the first few several months of 2019 exploring the far side of the moon after being the first nation to successfully perform a soft landing on the half of Earth’s…
Air Force Launches Electronic Warfare Roadmap: EMS ECCT 2.0(Breaking Defense) The Air Force is looking across the enterprise to build a comprehensive map of all electronic warfare capabilities for the second stage of its landmark service-wide probe of how to bolster the Air Force’s EW and cyber warfare capabilities.
Air Force Unveils S & T Strategy to Confound China, Russia(Breaking Defense) Air Force wants China and that other, much poorer competitor known as Russia, to worry the US is in the early stages of fielding weapons systems that will tip the strategic see-saw to the American side. As outgoing Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson made clear here today, it is, in part, a cost-imposition strategy.
We Love the Pentagon’s ‘Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure’(War is Boring) This story originally appeared on Nov. 18, 2014. Ethically, it’s been a rough few years for the military. In July 2013, an Air Force major general went on an epic five-day bender while on a diplomatic mission in Russia. That November, Navy officials launched an investigation into misconduct involving top...
Compiled and published by the CyberWire editorial staff. Views and assertions in source articles are those of the authors, not CyberWire, Inc. or Cosmic AES