SpaceX’s Next Mission: Launching the First Hacking Sandbox into Space

SpaceX’s 28th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is set to make history by launching six CubeSats, including Moonlighter, the world’s first space-based hacking sandbox, according to a press release by the ISS National Laboratory.

Moonlighter, developed by the Aerospace Corporation, is a unique cybersecurity technology that allows hackers to perform tests in space to help identify methods for preventing satellite system hacks. This project, sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory and supported by Nanoracks, aims to introduce top cybersecurity professionals to Moonlighter and its potential to address gaps in cybersecurity testing in space.

Moonlighter, a mid-size 3U nanosatellite, was developed in partnership with Space Systems Command and the Air Force Research Laboratory. It will enable real-time cybersecurity testing in orbit for the first time, allowing cybersecurity professionals to conduct repeatable, realistic, and secure space-based cyber experiments.

Moonlighter will be part of Hack-A-Sat 4, an annual challenge where finalists can hack the CubeSat in orbit during DEF CON, a convention for hackers held in August. With a growing space-based economy and increasing competition in the space environment, Moonlighter is seen as a critical tool for strengthening cybersecurity in space.

In addition to Moonlighter, five student-developed CubeSats are also launching on SpaceX CRS-28 as part of the Canadian CubeSat Project. This initiative of the Canadian Space Agency aims to increase student engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and prepare the future space industry workforce.

The SpaceX CRS-28 mission is scheduled for launch no earlier than June 7, 2023. This mission will include multiple ISS National Lab-sponsored payloads.

Featured Image by SpaceX on Unsplash

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