Space – the final frontier. And a fertile ground for new innovations.
A few weeks ago on Jan 18th, 2010, a Cisco designed router achieved a major milestone in space by successful in-orbit testing of the onboard router and the Cisco IOS® Software’s networking capabilities. This was historic, it being the first-ever deployment of an Internet Protocol (IP) router aboard a commercial geosynchronous satellite. The entire IP routing system, the technology is dubbed Cisco Internet Routing in Space (IRIS) was launched via Intelsat’s IS-14 satellite on Nov 23rd, 2009.
The IRIS program has been in the works for a while, with the primary objective of building radiation-tolarant IP routers for satellite and related spacecraft. These would support network services for voice, video and data communications, in much the same way as routers on the ground do. IRIS provides the dynamic flexibility and adaptability of the Internet Protocol to help streamline communications flow, improve mobility, reduce the number of hops between end points etc. compared to conventional circuit switched satellite technology.
A program of this magnitude obviously is a joint effort. The IRIS program is a Department of Defense Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) managed by Cisco and Intelsat General Corp. The IRIS payload will convert to commercial use following the three-month JCTD ending in April 2010.
The objective is similar with any best practice network design – reduce latency, increasing efficiency and optimizing the bandwidth. Guess what – satellite bandwidth is costly. WAN optimization in space is another topic I’ll blog sometime down the line. For, any improvements that can be achieved in satellite based communications will have a standing effect on the services delivered right here on Earth, whether it be richer, faster or better services delivery.
Ultimately, it is innovations such as these that sow the seeds for the future. As our outlook becomes more Borderless, what could be a more fitting proof point for eliminating borders, than to participate in initiatives that help us bridge the gap between the Earth and the Heavens?
Hungry for more info? Check out www.cisco.com/go/iris