Defensive Dazzling/Blinding

Laser systems can be used to dazzle or blind the optical or infrared sensors on an incoming ASAT weapon in the terminal phase of flight. This is similar to the laser infrared countermeasures used on aircraft to defeat heat-seeking missiles. Blinding an ASAT weapon’s guidance system and then maneuvering to a new position (if necessary) could allow a satellite to effectively “dodge” a kinetic attack. It could also be used to dazzle or blind the optical sensors on inspector satellites to prevent them from imaging a satellite that wants to keep its capabilities concealed or to frustrate adversary SDA efforts.


Best Segment for Countermeasure Deployment

  • Ground Segment and Space Segment

NIST Rev5 Controls

D3FEND Techniques

D3FEND Artifacts


ISO 27001

ID: CM0087
NASA Best Practice Guide:  MI-AUTH-01 | MI-AUTH-02 | MI-INTG-01 | MI-DCO-02
ESA Space Shield Mitigation: 
Created: 2023/04/22
Last Modified: 2024/06/11

Techniques Addressed by Countermeasure

ID Name Description
IA-0005 Rendezvous & Proximity Operations Threat actors may perform a space rendezvous which is a set of orbital maneuvers during which a spacecraft arrives at the same orbit and approach to a very close distance (e.g. within visual contact or close proximity) to a target spacecraft.
.02 Docked Vehicle / OSAM Threat actors may leverage docking vehicles to laterally move into a target spacecraft. If information is known on docking plans, a threat actor may target vehicles on the ground or in space to deploy malware to laterally move or execute malware on the target spacecraft via the docking interface.
EX-0017 Kinetic Physical Attack Kinetic physical attacks attempt to damage or destroy space- or land-based space assets. They typically are organized into three categories: direct-ascent, co-orbital, and ground station attacks [beyond the focus of SPARTA at this time]. The nature of these attacks makes them easier to attribute and allow for better confirmation of success on the part of the attacker.* *
.02 Co-Orbital ASAT Co-orbital ASAT attacks are when another satellite in orbit is used to attack. The attacking satellite is first placed into orbit, then later maneuvered into an intercepting orbit. This form of attack requires a sophisticated on-board guidance system to successfully steer into the path of another satellite. A co-orbital attack can be a simple space mine with a small explosive that follows the orbital path of the targeted satellite and detonates when within range. Another co-orbital attack strategy is using a kinetic-kill vehicle (KKV), which is any object that can be collided into a target satellite.* *
DE-0009 Camouflage, Concealment, and Decoys (CCD) This technique deals with the more physical aspects of CCD that may be utilized by threat actors. There are numerous ways a threat actor may utilize the physical operating environment to their advantage, including powering down and laying dormant within debris fields as well as launching EMI attacks during space-weather events.
.01 Debris Field Threat actors may hide their spacecraft by laying dormant within clusters of space junk or similar debris fields. This could serve several purposes including concealment of inspection activities being performed by the craft, as well as facilitating some future kinetic intercept/attack, and more.

Space Threats Addressed by Countermeasure

ID Description
SV-CF-2 Eavesdropping (RF and proximity)  
SV-AC-5 Proximity operations (i.e., grappling satellite)  
SV-CF-4 Adversary monitors for safe-mode indicators such that they know when satellite is in weakened state and then they launch attack  

Low-Level Requirements

Requirement Rationale/Additional Guidance/Notes
The [organization] shall protect documentation and Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) as required, in accordance with the risk management strategy.{AC-3,CM-12,CP-2,PM-17,RA-5(4),SA-3,SA-3(1),SA-5,SA-10,SC-8(1),SC-28(3),SI-12}
The [organization] shall identify and properly classify mission sensitive design/operations information and access control shall be applied in accordance with classification guides and applicable federal laws, Executive Orders, directives, policies, regulations, and standards.{SV-CF-3,SV-AV-5}{AC-3,CM-12,CP-2,PM-17,RA-5(4),SA-3,SA-3(1),SA-5,SA-8(19),SC-8(1),SC-28(3),SI-12} * Mission sensitive information should be classified as Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) or formally known as Sensitive but Unclassified. Ideally these artifacts would be rated SECRET or higher and stored on classified networks. Mission sensitive information can typically include a wide range of candidate material: the functional and performance specifications, the RF ICDs, databases, scripts, simulation and rehearsal results/reports, descriptions of uplink protection including any disabling/bypass features, failure/anomaly resolution, and any other sensitive information related to architecture, software, and flight/ground /mission operations. This could all need protection at the appropriate level (e.g., unclassified, SBU, classified, etc.) to mitigate levels of cyber intrusions that may be conducted against the project’s networks. Stand-alone systems and/or separate database encryption may be needed with controlled access and on-going Configuration Management to ensure changes in command procedures and critical database areas are tracked, controlled, and fully tested to avoid loss of science or the entire mission.
The [organization] shall ensure that role-based security-related training is provided to personnel with assigned security roles and responsibilities: (i) before authorizing access to the system or performing assigned duties; (ii) when required by system changes; and (iii) at least annually thereafter.{AT-3,CP-2}
The [organization] shall distribute documentation to only personnel with defined roles and a need to know.{SV-CF-3,SV-AV-5}{CM-12,CP-2,SA-5,SA-10} Least privilege and need to know should be employed with the protection of all documentation. Documentation can contain sensitive information that can aid in vulnerability discovery, detection, and exploitation. For example, command dictionaries for ground and space systems should be handles with extreme care. Additionally, design documents for missions contain many key elements that if compromised could aid in an attacker successfully exploiting the system.
The [organization] shall define processes and procedures to be followed when integrity verification tools detect unauthorized changes to software, firmware, and information.{SV-IT-2}{CM-3,CM-3(1),CM-3(5),CM-5(6),CM-6,CP-2,IR-6,IR-6(2),PM-30,SC-16(1),SC-51,SI-3,SI-4(7),SI-4(24),SI-7,SI-7(7),SI-7(10)}
The [organization] shall conduct a criticality analysis to identify mission critical functions and critical components and reduce the vulnerability of such functions and components through secure system design.{SV-SP-3,SV-SP-4,SV-AV-7,SV-MA-4}{CP-2,CP-2(8),PL-7,PM-11,PM-30(1),RA-3(1),RA-9,SA-8(9),SA-8(11),SA-8(25),SA-12,SA-14,SA-15(3),SC-7(29),SR-1} During SCRM, criticality analysis will aid in determining supply chain risk. For mission critical functions/components, extra scrutiny must be applied to ensure supply chain is secured.
The [organization] shall develop an incident response and forensics plan that covers the spacecrafts.{CP-2,IR-1,IR-3,IR-3(2),IR-4(12),IR-4(13),IR-8,SA-15(10),SI-4(24)}
The [organization] shall employ techniques to limit harm from potential adversaries identifying and targeting the [organization]s supply chain.{CP-2,PM-30,SA-9,SA-12(5),SC-38,SR-3,SR-3(1),SR-3(2),SR-5(2)}
The [organization] shall coordinate contingency plan development, and testing of the plan, with organizational elements responsible for related plans.{CP-2(1),CP-4(1)}
The [organization] shall coordinate contingency plan development and associated activities with external service providers to ensure that contingency requirements can be satisfied.{CP-2(7)}
The [organization] shall maintain 24/7 space situational awareness for potential collision with space debris that could come in contact with the spacecraft.{SV-MA-1}{PE-20}
The [organization] shall develop policies and procedures to establish sufficient space domain awareness to avoid potential collisions or hostile proximity operations.This includes establishing relationships with relevant organizations needed for data sharing.{PE-6,PE-6(1),PE-6(4),PE-18,PE-20,RA-6,SC-7(14)}
The [organization] shall monitor physical access to all facilities where the system or system components reside throughout development, integration, testing, and launch to detect and respond to physical security incidents in coordination with the organizational incident response capability.{PE-6,PE-6(1),PE-6(4),PE-18,PE-20,SC-7(14)}
The [spacecraft] shall encrypt all telemetry on downlink regardless of operating mode to protect current state of spacecraft.{SV-CF-4}{AC-3(10),RA-5(4),SA-8(18),SA-8(19),SC-8,SC-8(1),SC-13}
The [spacecraft] shall not employ a mode of operations where cryptography on the TT&C link can be disabled (i.e., crypto-bypass mode).{SV-AC-1,SV-CF-1,SV-CF-2}{AC-3(10),SA-8(18),SA-8(19),SC-16(2),SC-16(3),SC-40(4)}
The [spacecraft] shall enter a cyber-safe mode when conditions that threaten the platform are detected, enters a cyber-safe mode of operation with restrictions as defined based on the cyber-safe mode.{SV-AV-5,SV-AV-6,SV-AV-7}{CP-10(6),CP-12,CP-13,IR-4,IR-4(1),IR-4(3),PE-10,RA-10,SA-8(16),SA-8(21),SA-8(24),SI-3,SI-4(7),SI-13,SI-17}
The [spacecraft] shall provide the capability to enter the platform into a known good, operational cyber-safe mode from a tamper-resistant, configuration-controlled (“gold”) image that is authenticated as coming from an acceptable supplier, and has its integrity verified.{SV-AV-5,SV-AV-6,SV-AV-7}{CP-10(6),CP-12,CP-13,IR-4(3),SA-8(16),SA-8(19),SA-8(21),SA-8(24),SI-13,SI-17} Cyber-safe mode is an operating mode of a spacecraft during which all nonessential systems are shut down and the spacecraft is placed in a known good state using validated software and configuration settings. Within cyber-safe mode authentication and encryption should still be enabled. The spacecraft should be capable of reconstituting firmware and SW functions to preattack levels to allow for the recovery of functional capabilities. This can be performed by self-healing, or the healing can be aided from the ground. However, the spacecraft needs to have the capability to replan, based on available equipment still available after a cyberattack. The goal is for the vehicle to resume full mission operations. If not possible, a reduced level of mission capability should be achieved.
The [spacecraft] shall enter cyber-safe mode software/configuration should be stored onboard the spacecraft in memory with hardware-based controls and should not be modifiable.{CP-10(6),CP-13,SA-8(16),SA-8(19),SA-8(21),SA-8(24),SI-17}
The [spacecraft] shall fail to a known secure state for failures during initialization, and aborts preserving information necessary to return to operations in failure.{SV-AV-5,SV-AV-6,SV-AV-7}{CP-10(6),CP-13,SA-8(16),SA-8(19),SA-8(24),SC-24,SI-13,SI-17}
The [spacecraft] shall fail securely to a secondary device in the event of an operational failure of a primary boundary protection device (i.e., crypto solution).{SV-AC-1,SV-AC-2,SV-CF-1,SV-CF-2}{CP-13,SA-8(19),SA-8(24),SC-7(18),SI-13,SI-13(4)}
The [organization] shall define the security safeguards that are to be automatically employed when integrity violations are discovered.{SV-IT-2}{CP-2,SA-8(21),SI-3,SI-4(7),SI-4(12),SI-7(5),SI-7(8)}
The [spacecraft] shall recover from cyber-safe mode to mission operations within 20 minutes.{SV-MA-5}{CP-2(3),CP-2(5),IR-4,SA-8(24)} Upon conclusion of addressing the threat, the system should be capable of recovering from the minimal survival mode back into a mission-ready state within defined timelines. The intent is to define the timelines and the capability to return back to mission operations.
The [spacecraft] shall provide or support the capability for recovery and reconstitution to a known state after a disruption, compromise, or failure.{SV-AV-5,SV-AV-6,SV-AV-7}{CP-4(4),CP-10,CP-10(4),CP-10(6),CP-13,IR-4,IR-4(1),SA-8(16),SA-8(19),SA-8(24)}
The [spacecraft] shall implement cryptography for the indicated uses using the indicated protocols, algorithms, and mechanisms, in accordance with applicable federal laws, Executive Orders, directives, policies, regulations, and standards: [NSA- certified or approved cryptography for protection of classified information, FIPS-validated cryptography for the provision of hashing].{SV-AC-1,SV-AC-2,SV-CF-1,SV-CF-2,SV-AC-3}{IA-7,SC-13}
The [spacecraft] shall protect system components, associated data communications, and communication buses in accordance with: (i) national emissions and TEMPEST policies and procedures, and (ii) the security category or sensitivity of the transmitted information.{SV-CF-2,SV-MA-2}{PE-14,PE-19,PE-19(1),RA-5(4),SA-8(18),SA-8(19),SC-8(1)} The measures taken to protect against compromising emanations must be in accordance with DODD S-5200.19, or superseding requirements. The concerns addressed by this control during operation are emanations leakage between multiple payloads within a single space platform, and between payloads and the bus.
The [organization] shall describe (a) the separation between RED and BLACK cables, (b) the filtering on RED power lines, (c) the grounding criteria for the RED safety grounds, (d) and the approach for dielectric separators on any potential fortuitous conductors.{SV-CF-2,SV-MA-2}{PE-19,PE-19(1)}
The [spacecraft] shall be designed such that it protects itself from information leakage due to electromagnetic signals emanations.{SV-CF-2,SV-MA-2}{PE-19,PE-19(1),RA-5(4),SA-8(19)} This requirement applies if system components are being designed to address EMSEC and the measures taken to protect against compromising emanations must be in accordance with DODD S-5200.19, or superseding requirements.
The [spacecraft] shall provide the capability for data connection ports or input/output devices to be disabled or removed prior to spacecraft operations.{SV-AC-5}{SA-9(2),SC-7(14),SC-41,SC-51} Intent is for external physical data ports to be disabled (logical or physical) while in operational orbit. Port disablement does not necessarily need to be irreversible.
The [spacecraft] shall protect the confidentiality and integrity of the [all information] using cryptography while it is at rest.{SV-IT-2,SV-CF-2}{SC-28,SC-28(1),SI-7(6)} * Information at rest refers to the state of information when it is located on storage devices as specific components of information systems. This is often referred to as data-at-rest encryption.
The [spacecraft] shall implement concealment and misdirection techniques to obscure the presence and characteristics of specific system components.{SC-30(5)}