Skip to content
5 min read

Exploring the Future of Space Security in the UK

On January 31, 2024, tmc3 was delighted to be a part of the Space Security Workshop at the Satellite Applications Catapult. This workshop brought together approximately 25 organisations, including tmc3, to collaborate with the UK Space Agency in order to gain a better understanding of the risks that will be encountered as part of the UK's ambitious drive to innovate in the Space sector.

Image (1)

The event was truly exciting, bringing together a diverse group of Space-specific companies and Cyber Security Specialists. Throughout the day, attendees engaged in various activities, including a thorough review of high-level architecture, providing valuable insights into the UKSA's current perspective.

Currently, the National Risk Register lists 4 specific concerns related to the Space sector. These encompass both natural occurrences like Space Weather and potential Cyber threats such as deliberate disruption of space UK systems and space-based systems.

An important insight gained from the workshop was the UKSA's ambition to establish itself as a prominent global player in the Space industry. This presents an exciting opportunity for commercial organisations like tmc3 to make valuable contributions and be part of this pioneering journey.

While it may be tempting to view a satellite as a solitary entity floating in space, the reality is far more intricate. There exists a complex network of third-party suppliers involved in every step of the satellite's journey, from its creation and transportation to its loading onto a launch vehicle and eventual deployment into Earth's orbit. Many of the challenges faced during this process are not exclusive to the realm of space. In fact, it is widely recognised that the greatest risk to the physical asset, from a cyber security standpoint, occurs before it even leaves the confines of Earth.

Furthermore, there is an increasing accessibility to crucial communications with the introduction of AWS Ground Station, which further expands the XaaS model. This allows users to utilise their service for a minimal cost of a few pounds per minute of uplink.

A diagram of a system__Description automatically generated

The multitude of challenges faced in the Space sector extends beyond technical hurdles and encompasses governance, governmental regulations, and legal controls. These obstacles are particularly complex due to the nature of the technology, which transcends national borders and operates on truly-borderless scale.

The rapid transformation of commercial suppliers in the Space sector is truly astonishing. Take SpaceX's Starlink, for example, which now accounts for more than half of all operational satellites in orbit. This achievement becomes even more remarkable when you consider that they only launched their first satellite in 2018. And the excitement doesn't stop there. This year, SpaceX has plans to introduce a direct-to-cell service, allowing select customers in the United States to receive a 5G signal on their regular mobile phones directly from these satellites. This development further amplifies our reliance on space technologies and showcases the immense potential of the industry.

Whilst not quite in its infancy, security for space and in particular the UK Space Agency has a sizeable and winding journey ahead. We are looking forward to attending further workshops and extending the security thinking in this area. 

I genuinely love working in an industry where technology and business intersect, always believing doing better with real world Cyber Security can benefit everyone. I consider it a privilege to have been able to delivery Cyber Security advice and guidance to some of the greatest organisations with some of the most brilliant people around and look forward to continuing in what is certainly an exciting and dynamic future for technology.