COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Staring at the computer screen in an office complex not too far from Schriever and Peterson Space Force Bases, a Guardian had a rapidly diminishing timer with only eight minutes left to carefully type in the complex computer code needed to hack an enemy satellite.
The low-Earth orbit satellite, which was traveling at roughly 18,000 miles an hour, was reportedly gathering intelligence about U.S. military assets across the Midwest, Southeast, Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Seaboard on four passes — leaving only a small contact window in which the Guardians could work to stop the enemy from collecting photos and reconnaissance.
Their plan was to slowly redirect the satellite's camera away from its intended targets by a few degrees each pass, a subtle averted gaze so as not to arouse suspicion. But if the enemy noticed any small changes, the Guardians' cover could be blown. One young specialist came up with the idea to send the operator false data, so the enemy would think it was business as usual. Then, once their mission was complete, they'd hack into the logs and erase them, hiding all traces they were even there.
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A single mistype could shut down the whole operation or, worse, blow their cover. After the eight minutes, a quiet settled into the laboratory as the contact window closed and connection…