NASA has confirmed to TPM that one of its earth observation satellites “experienced two suspicious events,” partly verifying the alarming conclusions of a draft of a forthcoming report by an independent Congressional advisory panel on U.S.-Chinese relations.
NASA did not address the portion of the report that found the attacks bore hallmarks of the Chinese military, or someone affiliated with the inner-workings of the Chinese military. But the agency did say that it had launched a task force to increase security, alerted the Defense Department and was “complying” with the National Space Policy guidelines.
On Friday, in response to an inquiry about the reported satellite hacks, TPM received the following information in an email from NASA Public Affairs Officer Trent J. Perrotto, who confirmed two hacks affected its Terra AM-1 satellite, but said that no damage, theft or any other security breaches had taken place, and that NASA had restored its control over the satellite.
NASA experienced two suspicious events with the Terra spacecraft in the summer and fall of 2008. We can confirm that there was no manipulation of data, no commands were successfully sent to the satellite, and no data was captured. NASA notified the Department of Defense, which is responsible for investigating any attempted interference with satellite operations.
While we cannot discuss additional details regarding the attempted interference, our satellite operations and associated systems and information are safe and secure. We are complying with the guidance in the National Space Policy to protect our critical space systems and have created a working group to establish and implement an agency-wide space protection program.