Space Development Agency Collaborates With SpiderOak for OrbitSecure

The Space Development Agency (SDA) has partnered with cybersecurity firm SpiderOak for the integration of SpiderOak’s OrbitSecure software suite into the Space Force’s Rapid Resilient Command and Control initiative. The aim of this partnership is to enhance the cybersecurity of command and control systems as the Space Force expands its Satellite Control Network with commercial and allied networks.

OrbitSecure stands out for its end-to-end zero-trust design, which allows it to secure data traffic on networks owned by different entities with varying security protocols. This unique variable-trust mechanism enables secure transmission of data across diverse networks, providing a novel solution for improving command and control resilience.

As part of the collaboration with the SDA, SpiderOak will focus on expanding the government’s use of commercial, civil, and allied ground infrastructure using OrbitSecure. The software is specifically designed for space operations, taking into account the constraints of size, weight, power, and connectivity often encountered in orbital conditions. It has already been tested in space environments, including on a prototype payload from Ball Aerospace and on the International Space Station with Amazon Web Services’ Snowcone edge computing device.

One notable feature of OrbitSecure is its data-level security, which allows it to secure any form of data passing through or residing in space assets. This flexibility opens up opportunities for utilizing a variety of commercial network and ground station options for command and control tasks. This approach, known as “hybrid-space architecture,” not only enhances security but also offers benefits such as reduced data latency and increased resiliency against cyber and physical threats to orbital assets.

OrbitSecure is also compatible with existing space systems, providing backward compatibility with current systems on orbit. Its compatibility and ability to minimize latency make it a strong contender for enhancing secure communications in a cost-effective manner. Additionally, this partnership complements SpiderOak’s ongoing work with the Defense Innovation Unit, where they are demonstrating the capabilities of secure hybrid communications across interconnected commercial and government networks.

Dave Pearah, CEO of SpiderOak, emphasized the urgency of improving resilience through cyber-secured commercial ground systems, citing the well-documented cyber threats to satellites and the imminent threat of hypersonic missiles. He highlighted that the features of OrbitSecure, such as efficient transmission of commands and data, are crucial in the face of current threats from countries like China.

This partnership between SpiderOak and the SDA represents a significant development in the space and cybersecurity sectors. It introduces a paradigm shift in space cybersecurity and has the potential to become a gold standard in command and control systems. The collaboration also reflects the trend of public-private partnerships in space defense and may lead to substantial financial growth for SpiderOak. From a government policy perspective, this contract indicates a focus on fostering innovation in commercial, civil, and allied ground infrastructure and aligns with prevailing geopolitical stances on cybersecurity.

In summary, this partnership highlights the evolving landscape of space technology, cybersecurity, and government contracting. Analysts in various sectors should consider the implications of this development, including its impact on space cybersecurity solutions, the financial prospects for SpiderOak, potential diplomatic implications, and its influence on government policy and defense contracts.