Galois Serves Space-BACN for Breakfast

In late 2023, Galois wrapped up its cybersecurity and Rigorous Digital Engineering (RDE) work on Space-Based Adaptive Communications Node (Space-BACN), a DARPA program that aims to revolutionize the way space-based communications work by developing low-cost, high-speed reconfigurable optical datalinks to connect various low-earth orbit (LEO) constellations.

While Galois’s prime partner built the optical modem for the system, Galois aimed to ensure that the modem was “secure-by-design,” meaning that security was built into the project from its inception, rather than an afterthought. This approach decreases program risk, lowers overall costs, and helps decrease project timelines.

Galois’s tasks included creating a product line engineering-based architecture and design for the Space-BACN platform, including its operating system, the terminal’s hardware, firmware, and software, and the C2 channel; crafting a formal specification of the Space-BACN platform fit for tool-assisted cybersecurity analysis; performing a cybersecurity architecture trade study analysis of the Space-BACN Security Subsystem; using the Security-by-Design process and methodology to create a high-assurance, secure First Stage BootLoader (FSBL) for the Space-BACN platform; and creating a model-based, Literate Digital Interface Control Document for the platform.

This “Digital ICD” looks and feels like a normal, human-readable ICD, but also contains machine interpretable models and specifications that automatically enable model-based reasoning, code generation, and assurance of the platform. Thus, Galois’s final contribution to the program in this phase was a Space-BACN Digital ICD which contained, for example, a demonstration of the reuse of a formal specification of the Space Packet Protocol developed by NASA in order to specify Space-BACN’s flavor of Space Packet, and then automatically generate an implementation of that communication layer in Rust.

Learn more on the Space-BACN Project Page.