This report examines the feasibility of using modern cryptographic tools to improve space situational awareness. Specifically, the authors examine the applicability of secure multiparty computation (MPC) protocols as a means to compute the collision probability of two satellites. MPC protocols would provide satellite operators with a way to compute such "conjunction analyses" while maintaining the privacy of each operator's orbital information.
Achieving Higher-Fidelity Conjunction Analyses Using Cryptography to Improve Information Sharing
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- How feasible is secure multiparty computation as a means to carry out higher-fidelity conjunction analyses?
Space debris — the man-made orbital junk that represents a collision risk to operational satellites — is a growing threat that will increasingly affect future space-related mission designs and operations. Since 2007, the number of orbiting debris objects has increased by over 40 percent as a result of the 2007 Chinese antisatellite weapon test and the Iridium/Cosmos collision in 2009. With this sudden increase in debris, there is a renewed interest in reducing future debris populations using political and technical means.
The 2010 U.S. Space Policy makes several policy recommendations for addressing the space congestion problem. One of the policy's key suggestions instructs U.S. government agencies to promote the sharing of satellite positional data, as this can be used to predict (and avoid) potential collisions. This type of information is referred to as space situational awareness (SSA) data, and, traditionally, it has been treated as proprietary or sensitive by the organizations that keep track of it because it could be used to reveal potential satellite vulnerabilities.
This document examines the feasibility of using modern cryptographic tools to improve SSA. Specifically, this document examines the applicability and feasibility of using cryptographically secure multiparty computation (MPC) protocols to securely compute the collision probability between two satellites. These calculations are known as conjunction analyses. MPC protocols currently exist in the cryptographic literature and would provide satellite operators with a means of computing conjunction analyses while maintaining the privacy of each operator's orbital information.
Several Secure Multiparty Computation (MPC) Protocols Have Been Developed.
- A number of different MPC implementations exist that could securely compute a single conjunction analysis using commercial off-the-shelf hardware in under an hour.
Current MPC Technology Is Sufficiently Advanced to Perform Secure Conjunction Analysis Calculations Quickly Enough to Be of Use to the Space Situational Awareness Community.
- Create a software prototype implementing a secure version of the conjunction analysis calculation.
Table of Contents
Overview of Secure Multiparty Computation
Efficiency of Implementation
Conclusions and Recommendations