A regular reader here, Ms. P.H., noticed this important article from our friends at Phys.org, and this is one that really raises the eyebrows:
The DLR center stands for Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfaht e.V , the German Center for Air and Space Travel, located, as the article indicates, in Cologne, and with a budget approaching one billion euros annually, a drop in the bucket by NASA standards, but a relatively significant chunk of money nonetheless. But what is interesting is the article itself, which I reproduce in full below:
"Germany's aeronautics and space research centre has for months been the target of a suspected cyber attack by a foreign intelligence service, a German news weekly reported Sunday.
"Der Spiegel said that several computers used by scientists and systems administrators at the Cologne-based DLR centre had been infiltrated by spy programmes.
"'The government classes the attack as extremely serious because it, among other things, is aimed at armament and rocket technolgies,' Spiegel said.
"In some computers IT experts found traces of spy programmes that were set up to destroy themselves on discovery, while others only activated themselves after months of lying in wait.
"Spiegel said the attacks were 'coordinated and systematic' and all the centre's operation systems were affected.
"IT forensic experts probing who could be behind the assault have turned up clues that seem to point to China, but Spiegel quoted an unidentifed 'insider' as saying they could also simply be 'camouflage'.
"Government sources said the case was being investigated but declined to confirm any details.
"The German aeronautics and space research centre is active in the fields of aeronautics, space, energy, transport and security and is involved in international cooperative ventures, according to its website."
The real question here is the implication of why anyone, China or otherwise, would want to spy on a German space research center. The article itself is citing a Der Spiegel article, which in turn references the usual unnamed "insider" who states that the espionage could simply be designed to make China look like the guilty party. In short, it could be anyone with an interest in snooping on a space rival's technology, from Russia, to the USSA, to France, the UK, China, India...anyone. However, in the wake of last week's revelations about German discontent and displeasure about the extent of US electronic spying coming from German Interior Minister Thomas de Maziere himself, the possibility that the "insider" might come from the German Interior Ministry is not out of the question, and in the context, the possibility that it is the USSA that is an equal possibility along with the other usual list of suspects, including China, cannot be discounted.
Another intriguing thing about the article is the statement that it had been going on for months, and that the target of the operation is "armaments and rockets." I suspect that there is little that the USSA or Russia might learn about space armaments or rockets from Germany, since all three countries are on a technological par (still, it's nice to know what the other guy's up to).
The real implication of the article is that the German Center is studying space weaponry and other systems... and the question is, why? I suspect, given the pressures on the dollar and the growing challenges to it, that the answer is clear: reserve currency status depends on space in today's world, and Germany, caught between two spheres of power and influence, has to have a redundancy capability to back it, or bolt from it, if and as necessary.
The real question will be to see if the German government ever announces who the ultimate culprit behind the spying was...
See you on the flip side.