Data on New Japanese Rocket Reportedly Stolen by Computer Virus
The New York Times and other news sources are reporting that the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) revealed on Friday that a computer virus was used to steal information about its new Epsilon rocket.
Epsilon is a three-stage solid propellant rocket that JAXA is developing for launching payloads up to 1200 kilograms into low Earth orbit. It uses the first stage of the H-IIA rocket and an upgraded version of the M-V upper stage for the second and third stages. One goal is to reduce the cost and complexity of rocket launches, including dramatically reducing the time needed for ground operations and introducing the concept of "mobile launch control." JAXA's Epsilon website states that "through [the] internet, we will be able to check and control rockets anywhere in the world simply by using a laptop computer. We are planning to realize the world, where the launch control system is not necessarily at the launch site anymore." The first launch is expected in 2013.
The New York Times reports that JAXA discovered on November 21 that a desktop computer at its Tsukuba Space Center was infected with a vrius that was collecting data about Epsilon and transmitting it externally. Computerworld adds that the infected computer had data not only about Epsilon, but other rockets. JAXA is investigating the incident.
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