Air Force researchers look to keep satellite networks up in the presence of cyber attacks

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M., 29 March 2013. U.S. Air Force space electronics experts are considering a research program on cyber security for orbiting satellites and satellite ground-control equipment, and they are trying to determine the level of expertise and capability in defense companies and universities.

Officials of the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., issued a request for information (RFI) for the Space Systems Cyber Resiliency program, which involves cyber security for satellites, satellite subsystems, and satellite ground-control systems.

The RFI for Space Systems Cyber Resiliency is asking companies and universities to submit reports on their interests and capabilities in spacecraft cyber security. Air Force researchers will use the information to help them decide whether or not to start a formal spacecraft cyber security research program.

Air Force researchers are trying to gain a better understanding of the state of industry research in protecting ground- and space-based assets that provide space services ranging from the space parts supply chain to the conduct of integrated space operations. The project does not concern broad themes in cyber security.

Air Force researchers are interested in spacecraft as a platform, the systems that constitute the spacecraft, the computers and their software, the buses and networks within, and the elements that interface to the spacecraft throughout its acquisition lifecycle.

Air Force interest extends to techniques, technologies, and systems to keep satellites and satellite control stations operating reliably in the presence of attempted cyber attacks; cyber-secure telemetry, tracking, and command tactics, techniques, and procedures; cyber-hard embedded spacecraft flight computers, microprocessors, field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and other digital hardware and networking buses, and point-to-point connections; and construction methodologies for building cyber-secure spacecraft.

Interest also extends to analytic tools to help determine spacecraft vulnerability to cyber attacks; technologies to keep spacecraft and networks functioning in the presence of cyber attacks; ways to distinguish between anomalies from system failures, cyber attacks, and radiation-induced upsets; self-healing systems; spacecraft cyber defense-in-depth; and mission survival with graceful degradation under cyber-attack.

Companies and colleges interested in participating should respond with white papers, presentations, or statements of capability no later than 6 May 2013.

Email unclassified responses to afrl.spacecraft.cyber.security@kirtland.af.mil; secret responses to afrl.spacecraft.cyber.security@afmc.af.smil.mil; and top secret responses to calvin.roman@afmc.ic.gov.

For contracting questions or concerns email the Air Force's Anthony Duran at anthony.duran@kirtland.af.mil or Rita Varley at rita.varley@kirtland.af.mil. For technical questions email Air Force Capt. Calvin Roman at calvin.roman@kirtland.af.mil.

More information is online at https://www.fbo.gov/spg/USAF/AFMC/AFRLPLSVD/RFI_Space_Systems_Cyber_Resiliency/listing.html.

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