Former Boeing Engineer Allegedly Shared Shuttle, Rocket Secrets With China

Largest U.S. Unmanned Rocket Launches Surveillance Satellite
A United Launch Alliance Delta 4-Heavy rocket carrying the DSP-23 missile warning satellite rockets spaceward from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Nov. 10, 2007. (Image credit: Carleton Bailie/United Launch Alliance.)

WASHINGTON —U.S. federal authorities arrested a former Boeing engineer Feb. 11 forallegedly giving the Chinese trade secrets related to several aerospaceprograms, including the space shuttle and Delta 4 rocket.

Accordingto a U.S. Justice Department press release, Dongfan ?Greg? Chung, 72, wasindicted by a federal grand jury Feb. 6 on eight counts of economic espionage;one count of conspiracy to commit espionage; one count of acting as anunregistered foreign agent; one count of obstruction of justice; and threecounts of making false statements to the FBI.

FBI agents arrested Chung athis Orange, Calif., home without incident. He was flown to Washington, where hewas expected to make his initial court appearance.

Chung wasidentified by the Justice Department as native of China and a naturalized U.S.citizen who worked for Rockwell International from 1973 until Boeing acquiredRockwell?s defense and space unit in 1996. Chung retired from Boeing in 2002,but returned as a contractor and continued to work on the shuttle program atBoeing?s Huntington Beach, Calif., facility until September 2006.

Accordingto the indictment, Chung held a Secret security clearance during his time onthe space shuttle program. Although he also is accused of passing secrets tothe Chinese related to the Delta4 rocket and C-17 cargo plane, Chung never worked on either of thoseprograms, according to the indictment.

?Mr. Chungis accused of stealing restricted technology that had been developed over manyyears by engineers who were sworn to protect their work product because itrepresented trade secrets. Disclosure of this information to outside entitieslike the [People?s Republic of China] would compromise our national security,?U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O?Brien said in a written statement.

Accordingto the indictment, Chung began receiving ?tasking? letters from individuals inthe Chinese aviation industry as early as 1979 directing him to collectspecific technological information about the space shuttle and various militaryand civilian aircraft. In one written response, according to the JusticeDepartment, Chung expressed a desire to serve the ?motherland.?

Chung alsoallegedly sent various letters to Chinese officials referencing engineeringmanuals he had collected on their behalf, including 24 internal companydocuments relating to the B-1 bomber.

Among theother sensitive information Chung allegedly shared with Chinese officials weredocuments relating to a phased-array antenna Boeing was developing as a space shuttle upgrade in themid-1990s and detailed technical descriptions of the Delta 4?s pre-launchfueling processes.

Theindictment also alleges that Chung exchanged letters with Chinese officialsdiscussing cover stories for his travels to China and methods for passinginformation, including suggestions that he use his wife, an artist, to transmitinformation.

Theindictment and arrest follows a joint investigation by the FBI and NASA.

Dan Beck, aspokesman for Boeing Integrated Defense Systems of St. Louis, would not commenton Chung?s arrest. He also said Boeing is not a focus of the investigation but?has been cooperating with the government throughout.?


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Editor-in-Chief, SpaceNews

Brian Berger is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews, a bi-weekly space industry news magazine, and He joined SpaceNews covering NASA in 1998 and was named Senior Staff Writer in 2004 before becoming Deputy Editor in 2008. Brian's reporting on NASA's 2003 Columbia space shuttle accident and received the Communications Award from the National Space Club Huntsville Chapter in 2019. Brian received a bachelor's degree in magazine production and editing from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.