WASHINGTON — The cybersecurity firm SpiderOak has signed an agreement with the U.S. Space Development Agency to research the use of the company’s software to protect ground systems that control military satellites.

SpiderOak, a software company focused on satellite cybersecurity, said Oct. 17 the agreement is a so-called Other Transaction Authority contract. It allows the Space Development Agency (SDA) to research the integration of the company’s OrbitSecure software suite into a military ground system currently in development called the Rapid Resilient Command and Control program. 

SDA, an agency under the U.S. Space Force, is building a large constellation of communications and missile-tracking satellites in low Earth orbit. 

The Rapid Resilient Command and Control program, or R2C2 — a new initiative led by the Space Force’s Space Rapid Capabilities Office — is an effort to develop a modern software-based ground control system for military satellites. 

SpiderOak’s technology is known as zero-trust cybersecurity, where all data is encrypted and the encryption keys are only known to the client.

Contract value not disclosed

A spokesman for SpiderOak said the company is not disclosing the value of SDA’s contract or the performance period. “They are variable and based on our success in delivering an exemplary zero-trust solution,” the spokesman said. “We expect a durable and growing project as we demonstrate OrbitSecure can safeguard satellite operations.”

SpiderOak previously demonstrated OrbitSecure on a Ball Aerospace prototype payload and on the International Space Station using an Amazon Web Services’ edge computing device provided by Axiom Space.

Dave Pearah, CEO of SpiderOak, said the company’s zero-trust mechanisms allow data to travel securely on networks and infrastructure with different owners and variable-security protocols. 

“The Space Force wants to ensure that communications are secure and there are redundancies in the event an adversary attempts to poke holes in communications networks, which are increasingly dependent on space,” he said.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...