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Networking Communications Space The Internet The Military

Intelsat Launches Hardware For Internet Routing From Space 83

coondoggie writes "A radiation-proof Cisco router was sent into space today aboard an Intelsat satellite with the goal of setting up military communications from space. The router/satellite combo is a key part of the US Department of Defense's Internet Routing In Space (IRIS) project, which aims to route IP voice, video and data traffic between satellites in space in much the same way packets are moved on the ground, reducing delays, saving on capacity and offering greater network flexibility, Cisco stated."
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Intelsat Launches Hardware For Internet Routing From Space

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  • Time to go! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Now that we can browse porn from Mars is there any reason not to go?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @10:10AM (#30213198)

    in space no one can hear you stream...

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Of course they can't! The router needs to be rebooted! AGAIN!

      • You reminded me of this article [] dating from 2004:

        ... some phone companies told Cisco that its routers were barely reliable enough to handle data, much less voice.

        We're lucky routers are usually located at branch offices staffed with people, who can reboot them anytime.

    • Doesn't matter if they hear. Astronauts are granted immunity from public urination laws.

  • Yes but ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by oldspewey ( 1303305 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @10:13AM (#30213238)
    ... does it run dd-wrt?
  • It's not up yet but after this direct tv d12.

  • Now there's a wifi hotspot for the moonbase that we're never going to build.
  • Intelsat by Cisco (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @10:23AM (#30213340)

    If they manufactured it in China then the back door is already built in by the factory so the Chinese can read all traffic or interdict it in a crisis.

    • If they manufactured it in China then the back door is already built in by the factory so the Chinese can read all traffic or interdict it in a crisis.

      Remember this [] ?

    • Don't worry, I think the Chinese are pretty good at protecting their estates. ^^

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I worked on the project. It is built in Colorado at an ITAR facility.

  • Not even Cisco (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DesertNomad ( 885798 )
    no such thing as radiation-proof for electronics. Resistant and resilient, perhaps. Radiation-hardened, maybe.
  • Satalite based communications always had a decent delay. []

    "Factoring in other normal delays from network sources gives a typical one-way connection latency of 500–700 ms from the user to the ISP, or about 1,000–1,400 milliseconds latency for the total Round Trip Time (RTT) back to the user. "
    • Yeah, I thought that too, but it occurred to me that satellite-to-ground communication is limited by the ground stations within the footprint of the satellite. If the only available ground stations are saturated with other traffic, it may very well be that a space-routed signal arrives at its destination before a direct to ground routed signal under certain conditions.

      The idea would not be for communication via satellite network to another ground station, that would likely be more effectively improved by u

    • Actually if they are able to route it directly between satellites instead of having to do sat-earth round trips, it reduces the delay from 4, 6 or 8 trips to just 2 plus a little between sats.

    • I can generally tell when I'm on a long-distance voice call that uses sat relay rather than a terrestrial link. More episodes when both parties unintentionally talk over one another, followed by an awkward silence as each politely waits for the other to resume.
    • I would have to agree - I don't see how this can be used to reduce delays.

      • Look at the larger picture. Moving the "hub" and routing logic to the satellite could reduce the total number of satellite hops between nodes without having to rely on a TDMA network. Instead of two hops for two spokes to talk to each other, this could perform the routing logic at the satellite and route directly between the two spokes. "reduced latency" is from reducing the number of satellite hops. This will not reduce any latency for a single hop, obviously.


      • It is routing satellite to satellite communications. Currently, if you had to send a signal from location S to location R and they were each serviced by different satellites, you would have to send from S up to sat1 back down to an intermediate ground station (or two), back up to sat2 and then back down to location R. With this system, you send a signal up to sat1, across to sat2, then down to R.

        Also, don't forget that this is for military communications. Having an untappable link that others cannot li
  • How are they going to get the fork lift up there in 3 years to do an upgrade?
  • by headhot ( 137860 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @10:47AM (#30213586) Homepage

    I'm sure Cisco conveniently forgot to explain the concept of latency before they sold them voice service on and router in space.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sepodati ( 746220 )

      You obviously haven't worked with Cisco VoIP over satellite links. It works perfectly fine over single satellite hops and up to three hops, in my experience. I've had VoIP calls with 2-3 second delays because of the number of hops and radio links that were completely functional. Of course there's delay. DoD users are far more tolerant of the delay than normal users, though. Usually it's as simple as using the word "over"... :)


    • I'm sure Cisco conveniently forgot to explain the concept of latency before they sold them voice service on and router in space.

      Yes, latency being the problem it is, let's go back to half-duplex. In fact, let's go back to telegraphy. We should be able to do something with all that wire being displaced by all those wireless hot spots.

    • You're talking about latency as if communication was to take place between Earth and the satellite. My guess is that this router will be used between satellites.
  • If they put routers into space, then what about servers? Would be the logical next step.

  • (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @11:01AM (#30213776) Homepage Journal

    Back in the earlier days of the less popular Internet, I used to get a kick out of pining , the US base in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica [], because it was as far as I could reach on the Net (ping times usually about 800ms). Before I'd traveled very much around the physical globe, I'd stretch my imagination to the scale spanning "me to McMurdo".

    I'm really psyched to look forward to pinging Jupiter.

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      Which raises the question (and yes, I did RTFA), is this satellite in LEO or GEO?

      If it's in GEO, you have a minimum 0.5 second round-trip ping time. Latency becomes a major factor at that point, regardless of how much bandwidth you can stuff in the channel.

      Remember, 186000 mi/sec, it's not just a good idea -- its the law!

  • Someone needs to do a casemod and slap it in a teapot.

  • In case of emergency, RFC1149/RFC2549 [] transport protocols cannot be used. I think NASA should find a workaround, in order to increase reliability of space communications.

  • muppets (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @11:12AM (#30213910)

    Pings iiiin spaaaaaaace!

  • ... latency is gonna be a bitch. Guess they're dealing with that in satcom already, though, right?
    • ... latency is gonna be a bitch. Guess they're dealing with that in satcom already, though, right?

      Which if you have multiple bases in the field (call them A and B) that want to communicate with each other is a bloody good reason to route in space.

      A-sat based router-B is going to be a lot lower latency than A-dumb sat-Ground based router-dumb stat-B.

  • How long (Score:3, Funny)

    by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @11:45AM (#30214396)
    How long before an ISP sues NASA for giving space internet for free, clearly abusing their governmental status and money.
    • Something of a tangent, but a regional NSP that I worked for in the 90's was very close to using NASA as an upstream provider to add diversity to an existing MCI (or was it Sprint?) DS3.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Latency is a bitch. As someone who has worked closely with IP based satellite solutions the average latency to a geosynchronous satellite (ones that are over the same spot on the earth at all times) is about 80 ms each way, or 160ms round trip. To get data from a war zone, such as the middle east, over a wholly government controlled satellite network, back to the US would take at least two satellite hops for a total of at least 320ms in addition to any other equipment delay. This becomes even more proble

  • The summary is a bit misleading. Intelsat was launched around midnight Sunday night PST or, if you will, early Monday morning. Technically Intelsat was in space and correcting its orbit on Monday, not today, as the summary implies:

    A radiation-proof Cisco router was sent into space today ...

    Just some early morning pedantry for my fellow space nerds out there. =)

  • What do you mean your laptop doesn't have a serial port?

    I have to wonder what new Cisco certification will focus on satellite systems?

  • The big issue this presents is that if the router stops working, doesn't renew the IP address or just won't connect then who is going to unplug it, wait a few seconds and plug it back in? Are they going to have to send astronauts up to do this every time that happens?
  • 12.3? 12.4? SXH? SXI? I'm sure it is the IP Enterprise Edition of some flavor.

  • The way things are right now we can't communicate directly from Iraq for example to US over satellite due to satellite footprint being too small. So it would go something like this: Iraq >>> Sat1 >>> Kuwait >>> Sat2 >>> Germany >>> Sat3 >>> US (Probably Maryland Fort Meade or Belvoir or something). Each >>> represents a satellite hop adding roughly 50 to 150ms delay. This is not counting in other delay added by other earth based equipment. This
    • A geo satellite can see about 1/3 of the earth's surface and so there are satellites that can directly connect Iraq and the USA in a single hop - like Telstar 12 [] for example. The delay is what it is, but terrestrial networks that cover that distance are not exactly delay free either and a bummer to install in a war zone.
    • Once you hit Kuwait or Germany (leaving Iraq), you're hooked into terrestrial connectivity as a primary. So it's only a single satellite hop and then 300ms or so to travel to the states via fiber. If you're on a smaller FOB in Iraq that needs to hop to it's parent unit, then Kuwait or Germany, then you'll have two satellite hops.

      The Sat-to-Sat link could be used instead of the fiber connectivity. While it may not save much latency, it could be a much larger and less congested pipe depending on the frequenci

  • ... when

    copy running-config startup-config

    gets typed over that console...

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972