Space hacking

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For cybergeeks bored with interrupting ecommerce on America On-Line and Amazon.com, NASA may soon be making possible an even loftier goal: hacking satellites.

NEW SCIENTIST reports that NASA has commissioned the British company Surrey Satellite Technology to research the use of Internet technology to control satellites. Last week, the company launched an experimental satellite — believed to be the first to be controlled via the Internet — from a base in Russia. Internet-guided satellites would be cheaper, and would allow operators to access their spacecraft from any PC at any time.

But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that NASA operators might not be the only ones with access to the satellites — any adept hacker could conceivably take control of a satellite from his bedroom. NASA itself recently admitted its vulnerability: Last week, the space agency acknowledged that a hacker was able to overload its computers and interrupt communication on a space shuttle mission in 1997. NASA says it has recorded about 500,000 attempted hacks in the past year alone.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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