Pentagon hosts competition for hackers to break into and take control of a Space Force satellite
By Kevin Hughes // Aug 15, 2023

The Department of Defense has professionally employed teams of hackers to launch cyberattacks at a United States government satellite in an effort to help strengthen the country's space systems.

The U.S. Air Force and Space Force are expecting that the campaign – the first-ever attempt to utilize hackers to break into a live, orbiting satellite – will aid them in building more secure space systems and recognize security gaps that could be used by China or other enemies. (Related: Hackers could shut down satellites – or turn them into weapons.)

On Friday, Aug. 11, five teams of hackers participated in the "Hack-a-Sat" competition at the DEFCON cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas to remotely take control of the Space Force satellite Moonlighter, currently revolving in Earth's low orbit.

Along with attempting to break in and create a data link to the satellite, hackers are also seeking to keep enemy teams out of their own exposed system by using encryption and firewall protections.

The Air Force and Space Force are concerned about rapidly developing Chinese capabilities to "deny, exploit or hijack" enemy satellites. The U.S. military's massive network of satellites is extremely important to national security, as they are necessary for guiding Armed Forces munitions, moving troops into positions, communicating and gathering intelligence.

The Armed Forces hope this contest can improve the military's defenses against threats to cybersecurity increasingly faced by the U.S. government. They will try to achieve it by allowing government representatives to observe how teams of professional hackers would attack and better their understanding of advanced hacking.

Hackers offered cash prizes for successfully finding weaknesses in satellites

During the competition, the hacking teams work frantically to break into the Moonlighter satellite to gain access to its data while fighting off other teams from attacking their own systems and preventing them from being the first to gain access.

The first-place team will win $50,000. The second-place team will take home $30,000 and the third-place team will receive $20,000. The winning team will be announced after around a week.

The five teams participating in the current round of the competition are at the final stage of the hacking contest. The teams include last year's champion Poland Can Into Space, which is also the first team to score points on Friday.

"We don't want to just be a big, monolithic organization," said Space Force Capt. Kevin Bernert, who hopes that this competition can help the government understand the need to creatively involve a wide variety of people skilled in cyber networks. "We want to get as many people smartly involved. And so the long term impact in that is to understand that you have to bake in cybersecurity – you don't just bolt it on afterwards."

This competition is only the latest effort of the Defense Department to bring in outside tech experts to be interested in developing and working on military systems. The Pentagon has extended similar opportunities for collaboration to experts in other cutting-edge tech fields in the past.

The Pentagon has already been offering dozens of military contracts to Silicon Valley for any tech company willing to work on boosting artificial intelligence development and adoption.

Follow for more news about hackers launching cyberattacks.

Watch the video below to know more about how Russian hackers destroyed more than 50 percent of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's online infrastructure.

This video is from The Prisoner channel on

More related stories:

Cybersecurity official warns: Americans must prepare for CYBERATTACKS from Chinese hackers.

Hackers could exploit software flaw in Emergency Alert System to cause mass panic.

SpaceX dumps Ukraine; prevents "weaponization" of satellite communications system.

Space Force to launch network of SPY SATELLITES to counter growing Chinese and Russian space capabilities.

"White hat" hacker dismantles world's largest pedophile ring, sends child rapists to prison.

Sources include:


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