Earlier this year, China deliberately destroyed one of its own weather satellites in orbit; an act which some analysts suggested could re-ignite the techno-political brouhaha about armaments in space. But two researchers believe that satellite-killing capability is not solely the preserve of super-powers, and is well within the reach of amateurs. Adrian Gheorghe and Dan Vamanu, writing in theInternational Journal of Critical Infrastructures, contend that military satellites, global positioning systems, weather satellites and even satellite TV systems could all become victims of such an attack.
While terrorist organizations or rogue states might be the organizations that first spring to mind when contemplating such attacks, Gheorghe and Vamanu say that college students with sufficient resources could also mount such an attack. The operation would only require modest engineering capability and a limited budget, they say, citing the easy availability of satellite tracking software on the Internet that would permit an unsophisticated attack.
“While it may be true that, when it comes to nuts and bolts, things may not be quite as simple as they sound here, the bare fact remains – it can be done,” they conclude, suggesting that the risk of deliberate satellite sabotage should be placed higher on the security agenda.