Hackers Said to be Planning to Launch Own Satellites to Combat Censorship


macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 29, 2011
oklahoma city
Hackers reportedly plan to fight back against Internet censorship by putting their own communications satellites into orbit and developing a grid of ground stations to track and communicate with them.

The news comes as the tech world is up in arms about proposed legislation that many feel would threaten online freedom.

According to BBC News, the satellite plan was recently outlined at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin. It's being called the "Hackerspace Global Grid."

If you don't like the idea of hackers being able to communicate better, hacker activist Nick Farr said knowledge is the only motive of the project, which also includes the development of new electronics that can survive in space, and launch vehicles that can get them there.

Farr and his cohorts are working on the project along with Constellation, a German aerospace research initiative that involves interlinked student projects.

You might think it would be hard for just anybody to put a satellite into space, but hobbyists and amateurs have been able in recent years to use balloons to get them up there. However, without the deep pockets of national agencies or large companies they have a hard time tracking the devices.

To better locate their satellites, the German hacker group came up with the idea of a sort of reverse GPS that uses a distributed network of low-cost ground stations that can be bought or built by individuals.

Supposedly, these stations would be able to pinpoint satellites at any given time while improving the transmission of data from the satellites to Earth.

The plan isn't without limitations.

For one thing, low orbit satellites don't stay in a single place. And any country could go to the trouble of disabling them. At the same time, outer space isn’t actually governed by the countries over which it floats.

The scheme discussed by hackers follows the introduction of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the United States, which many believe to be a threat to online freedom.

As PC World's Tony Bradley put it, the bill is a combination of an overzealous drive to fight Internet piracy, with elected representatives who don't know the difference between DNS, IM, and MP3. In short, SOPA is a "draconian legislation that far exceeds its intended scope, and threatens the Constitutional rights of law abiding citizens," he wrote.



macrumors newbie
Dec 23, 2011
Well, nice to make headlines...

But implementation is an entirely different matter...

Specifically, uplink is regulated by the governments of each county (FCC in the USA). Locating the Ground Stations near fiber points of presence is not usually an easy task. Licensing spectrum? Launch facilities? Operating uplink centers and flying spacecraft costs money. And lets talk lag. If you reply at GEO, round trip time is close to 4 seconds covering both round trip jumps to and from orbit. Going LEO has been tried. Irridium anyone? Went bankrupt.

Sorry, not going to happen...


macrumors 603
Oct 22, 2007
An Island in the Salish Sea
Satellites? Seems to me that these would be very much easier to track down and jam. If hackers have ground stations that track and connect, then perhaps the super-power that wants to see this traffic regulated might be able to track them? And, should that super-power ever figure out - just once - to hack the satellite itself, then it could permanently neutralize the satellite forcing the hackers to launch a replacement.

As well, these launches involve money. Money can be tracked back to the sources. The more launches the hackers need to fund, the more opportunities authorities have to track the money back to the individuals who need to stay 'anonymous'.

I don't see these satellites happening anytime soon.


macrumors G3
Mar 20, 2007
I'm fully behind keeping the internet free and open. As censorship starts to take off among Western countries, we need to fight back.

It's starting with torrent sites, but next thing, it'll be Facebook and Twitter being disabled during times of civil unrest. But does it stop there?


macrumors 68000
Mar 23, 2009
Technically, this is a no-brainer. Radio Amateurs have been successfully building and launching (with the help of government agencies) communication satellites since 1961, with more than 70 satellites put in orbit to date:


Initial OSCARs were build by non-profit AMSAT, the Amateur Radio Satellite Corporation, and were typically built by NASA and NASA-contractor engineers in their spare time and often in NASA facilities. Today, though, many amateur satellites are build by student groups.

Now, OSCARs communicate on spectrum allocated to amateur radio, and there are restrictions on content. "Hacker-sats", if done legally, would need to operate on commercial frequencies under rules set for such. I'm unaware, though, of just what the process is, and who - if anyone - licenses such use, since obviously the satellites are outside of any national jurisdiction.

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