Space Security Challenge 2021: Hack-A-Sat 2 registration opens, qualification round date announced

  • Published
  • By SMC Public Affairs
  • Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs

The U.S. Air and Space Forces in collaboration with the security research community opened registration today for the qualification round of the second annual Space Security Challenge: Hack-A-Sat satellite hacking challenge.

This virtual competition enables security researchers of all levels to focus their skills and creativity on solving cyber security challenges of space systems and incentivizes innovation in securing these systems.

The Space Security Challenge 2021: Hack-A-Sat 2 begins with a Qualification Event that takes place June 26, 10 a.m. EDT through June 27, 4 p.m. EDT. Teams compete in a Jeopardy-style format, earning points based on speed and accuracy, for a chance to win one of ten prize packages that include $10,000.

The top eight teams from the qualifying round advance to an attack and defense Capture-the-Flag-style Hack-A-Sat 2 Final event, in which teams defend their satellite system while employing offensive measures on their opponent’s systems. Geared toward security researchers who have more advanced technical knowledge of space systems, this final event takes place Sept. 17, 6 p.m. EDT through Sept. 19, 6 p.m. EDT. The top-three-finishing teams receive $50,000 for first place, $30,000 for second place and $20,000 for third place.

Last year’s Hack-A-Sat 1, the inaugural Space Security Challenge, drew in more than 2,000 teams made up of more than 6,000 individuals, who were able to connect, learn and hone their skills in this first-of-its-kind, fully immersive contest experience. Among these teams were the world’s best hackers, who, during the final round, championed a never-been-done-before on-orbit satellite hacking challenge.

“The first Hack-A-Sat was a tremendous success in bringing together a diverse group of government, commercial, and private organizations and individuals to test and develop cybersecurity solutions for our unique space networks,” said Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, Commander of the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center.

As satellites provide the entire world with needed data transmission for capabilities like GPS and credit card transactions, the Departments of the Air & Space Force embraces the benefit of ethical hacking to advance cyber and space technology for both the military and industry.

“The security and cyber-resiliency of our on-orbit systems is an absolute necessity as we look to ensure the peaceful development of the global commons of space over the coming decades.  This required a multitude of specialties, so partnerships across the entire professional cybersecurity spectrum are vital to developing the next-generation of secure space systems,” Thompson said.

Registration for the Qualifying Event is open to the public. To register, find rules and eligibility, and sign up to stay informed about all contest updates, visit

About AFRL 

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space, and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit: