The NSA Plot to Hack Every Satellite

Not content to tap into nearly every communications cable on planet earth, and dissatisfied with building a data center in Utah with enough data-storage capacity to store the entire world's communications, the United States National Security Agency has begun setting its sights on outer space. In 2013, The Guardian reported:

"Brewster Kahle, a co-founder of the Internet Archive, a San Francisco-based non-profit that hoovers up knowledge in a digital equivalent of the library of Alexandria, said technology facilitated near-ubiquitous snooping. 'If one had the opportunity to collect all the voice traffic in the US it would cost less than the Pentagon spends on paperclips. Storage these days is trivial, it's not a problem.'"

In the same manner that storing the entire world's communications is "trivial," gaining access to the cables through which is is transmitted is likewise trivial. In fact, accumulating every bit of data that passes through the earth's cables is something that even Pakistan's secretive Inter-Services Agency (ISI) is currently doing.

The Guardian reported in 2015 that the ISI "sought to tap worldwide internet traffic via underwater cables that would have given the country a digital espionage capacity to rival the US, according to a report by Privacy International. The report says the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency hired intermediary companies to acquire spying toolkits from western and Chinese firms for domestic surveillance."

In light of this, the Snowden disclosures haven't scandalized the world as much as many thought would happen because the NSA had capabilities that inspired mostly envy, not primarily rage. Even American lawmakers who may have at first been shocked to learn of the NSA's pervasive global espionage capabilities, have gone silent upon learning that these powers are shared by many other governments around the world, and NSA spokesmen have in private, according to a source, told lawmakers that US law was keeping the US behind rival signals intelligence agencies.

In light of this new Global Espionage Race, the United States is seeking to expand its capabilities in a place where developing nations cannot easily rival: in space. Intercepting satellite traffic first requires knowing the nature of the traffic, and the inability of the NSA to intercept laser communications between two satellites left the United States feeling as if there was a giant gap in its signals intelligence capabilities.

Experts have proposed that an N-slit laser interferometer  "where the laser signal takes the form of an interferometric pattern" could be used to send extremely secure communications. In 2015, Laser Focus World rated this as one of the top technologies, and wrote: "Space-to-space communications, where there is little or no propagation-path distortion and interaction with the carrier quanta, is an ideal application of the coupled concepts of optical communications and quantum cryptography."

So far, there has been only one instance of researchers finding a flaw in quantum cryptography, and this involved the two parties using traditional light sources, not photon sources. The NSA has known for over a decade that rival nations have been developing this technology, and that its days of being able to intercept really important data are limited.

This technology is not science fiction; in December of 2014, the US space agency, NASA, announced that it had successfully established "an optical communications link when its laser locked onto a ground beacon emitted by the Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory's ground station at JPL's Table Mountain Observatory in Wrightwood, California."

America's deadly new space espionage weapon?

In fear of losing its signals interception capabilities, the United Sates embarked on the creation of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, which has been described by Space Daily as a "robot space shuttle." However, this orbital vehicle is not under the purview of the civilian-headed NASA, but under the development of the Pentagon; it is by every definition a weapon of war, and a third of readers believe just as much.

The three X-37B missions have so far logged nearly 1,400 days in space and during that time the US Air Force has continued assisting the National Security Agency in developing the Pentagon's next big espionage tool. Regular communications satellites have already been compromised, and when laser communications satellites begin transmitting unhackable data to Earth, the X-37B will be waiting, and the satellite will be simply blown to bits by a kinetic weapon, or be accessed physically by one of the satellite hacking space-robots that the US is surely developing.