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Guidelines for Secure Small Satellite Design and Implementation: FY18 Cyber Security Line-Supported Program

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MIT Lincoln Laboratory Lexington United States

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We are on the cusp of a computational renaissance in space, and we should not bring past terrestrial missteps along. Commercial off-the-shelf COTS processors much more powerful than traditional rad-hard devices are increasingly used in a variety of low-altitude, short-duration CubeSat class missions. With this new-found headroom, the incessant drumbeat of faster, cheaper, faster, cheaper leads a familiar march towards Linux and a menagerie of existing software packages, each more bloated and challenging to secure than the last. Lincoln Laboratory has started a pilot effort to design and prototype an exemplar secure satellite processing platform, initially geared toward CubeSats but with a clear path to larger missions and future high performance rad-hard processors. The goal is to provide engineers a secure grab-and-go architecture that doesnt unduly hamstring aggressive build timelines yet still provides a foundation of security that can serve adopting systems well, as well as future systems derived from them. This document lays out the problem space for cybersecurity in this domain, derives design guidelines for future secure space systems, proposes an exemplar architecture that implements the guidelines, and provides a solid starting point for near-term and future satellite processing.

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Technical Report




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Approved For Public Release;

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