The first Space Cyber Challenge was hosted at this year's National Security Agency Cyber Defense Exercise, according to


The week-long challenge had graduate students from the Royal Military College of Canada competing against personnel from the National Security Agency, engineers from NASA, and five airmen from the 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing's 707th Communications Squadron from Fort Meade, Maryland.

The challenge was developed to help "increase awareness of space cybersecurity challenges and principles," said Capt. JBernard Caplo, airman from the 707th CS. There were three separate objectives for the teams to accomplish: system hardening, offensive cyber operations and satellite operations.

To prevent any unfair advantages, each team was provided a space mission kit that contained commercial off-the-shelf items needed to complete the two segments of the challenge, space and ground.

The two segments required the teams to develop a cube sat containing a sensor board and simulated satellite thrusters using light-emitting diodes, and to secure a functioning ground station that allowed their cube sats to communicate through a secure shell connection.

"For satellite operations, each team completed daily tasks, such as sending commands up to their satellite and downloading sensor data. Finally, for offensive cyber operations, each team attempted to attack another team's space mission and send malicious commands," Calpo said.

The continual collaboration across all domains with the Air Force, sister services, coalition, and allied nations is a necessity for today's Air Force to continue strengthening the ability to maintain operational cyber command and control. Through the SCC, both teams gained experience that allow continual enhancements to multi-domain capabilities while also limiting security, Air Force officials noted.