2011 Report to Congress of the U.S. - China Economic and Security Review Commission

Status Report From: U.S. House of Representatives
Posted: Wednesday, November 16, 2011

image Full report. Note Section 3 deals in depth with China's space activities - starts on page 198.

"... authoritative Chinese military writings advocate attacks on space-toground communications links and ground-based satellite control facilities in the event of a conflict. Such facilities may be vulnerable: in recent years, two U.S. government satellites have experienced interference apparently consistent with the cyber exploitation of their control facility."

Malicious Cyber Activities Directed Against U.S. Satellites

Notably, at least two U.S. government satellites have each experienced at least two separate instances of interference apparently consistent with cyber activities against their command and control systems: *

* On October 20, 2007, Landsat-7, a U.S. earth observation satellite jointly managed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey, experienced 12 or more minutes of interference. This interference was only discovered following a similar event in July 2008 (see below).*

* On June 20, 2008, Terra EOS [earth observation system] AM-1, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration- managed program for earth observation, experienced two or more minutes of interference.* The responsible party achieved all steps required to command the satellite but did not issue commands.

* On July 23, 2008, Landsat-7 experienced 12 or more minutes of interference. The responsible party did not achieve all steps required to command the satellite.

* On October 22, 2008, Terra EOS AM-1 experienced nine or more minutes of interference. The responsible party achieved all steps required to command the satellite but did not issue commands. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration confirmed two suspicious events related to the Terra EOS satellite in 2008 and the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed two anomalous events related to the Landsat-7 satellite in 2007 and 2008.S If executed successfully, such interference has the potential to pose numerous threats, particularly if achieved against satellites with more sensitive functions. For example, access to a satellite's controls could allow an attacker to damage or destroy the satellite. The attacker could also deny or degrade as well as forge or otherwise manipulate the satellite's transmission. A high level of access could reveal the satellite's capabilities or information, such as imagery, gained through its sensors. Opportunities may also exist to reconnoiter or compromise other terrestrial or spacebased networks used by the satellite.

The Implications of China's Civil and Military Space Activities

- China is one of the top space powers in the world today. The nation's capabilities, which are state of the art in some areas, follow from decades of substantial investment and high prioritization by China's top leaders. The prestige of space exploration and the national security benefits of space systems serve as primary motivators for Chinese decisionmakers.

- China views all space activities in the context of ''comprehensive national power.'' This concept includes many dimensions, but military aspects are fundamental. The PLA's primacy in all of China's space programs, including nominally civil activities, illustrates this emphasis.

- China's civil space programs have made impressive achievements over the past several decades. If Chinese projections hold, these programs are poised for continued accomplishments over the next ten to 15 years, such as the development of a space laboratory and eventually a space station. As part of an active lunar exploration program, China may attempt to land a man on the moon by the mid-2020s.

- China seeks new opportunities to sell satellites as well as satellite and launch services in international commercial space markets. Chinese firms' prospects for greater success in this field remain uncertain over the near term. However, China's international space-related diplomatic initiatives and their firms' ability to offer flexible terms on sales to developing countries may provide additional opportunities.

- In the military sphere, China appears to seek ''space supremacy.'' The PLA aims to implement this policy through two tracks. First, they increasingly utilize space for the purposes of force enhancement. The best example is China's integration of space-based sensors and guided weapons. Second, they seek the capabilities to deny an adversary the use of space in the event of a conflict. To this end, China has numerous, active, counterspace weapons programs with demonstrated capabilities. China's military space and counterspace activities are part of a larger strategy for area control.

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