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Intelsat Launches Hardware For Internet Routing From Space

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the distinguish-from-other-talking-birds dept.

Networking 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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83 comments

Time to go! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30213152)

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

One problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30213166)

Good luck getting a Cisco-certified network guy up there to configure/fix it.

Re:One problem... (1)

Kleppy (1671116) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213218)

They have a satellite phone hooked to an Atom based PC with the uplink serial cable between the two. Don't worry, NASA thought of everything....

It won't work because, (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30213198)

in space no one can hear you stream...

Re:It won't work because, (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30213260)

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

Re:It won't work because, (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214502)

You reminded me of this article [cnn.com] 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.

Yes but ... (3, Informative)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213238)

... does it run dd-wrt?

Re:Yes but ...Christmas gifts,Jacket,shoes,handbag (-1, Offtopic)

rycftuytomvysdtgdrh (1685276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213336)

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Re:Yes but ...Christmas gifts,Jacket,shoes,handbag (4, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213542)

Annoying slashdotters?

Is this site *BEGGING* to get hacked?

Re:Yes but ...Christmas gifts,Jacket,shoes,handbag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214982)

http://www.coolforsale.com/search.asp?hw_name=SEARCHSTRING&select1=1&page=1

Re:Yes but ...Christmas gifts,Jacket,shoes,handbag (1)

seandiggity (992657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215788)

Here's more info [websiteoutlook.com] on this spammer. If slashdot blocks posts from 60.217.227.225, we'd be all set, unless these posts are being made with a proxy. If that's the case, how about blocking any posts with hrefs to coolforsale.com and flagging the UUID?

Re:Yes but ...Christmas gifts,Jacket,shoes,handbag (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216942)

how about blocking any posts with hrefs to coolforsale.com

Because on wednesday the hrefs will point to wickedcooldeals.com, and on thursday they will point to supersalecooldeals.com, and on friday they will point to awesomedealsforsale.com, and on saturday ...

Hm. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30213266)

This takes blaming your lag on your ISP to a whole new level.

Intelsat by Cisco (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Intelsat by Cisco (1)

askanis42 (1138835) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213610)

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 [timesonline.co.uk] ?

Re:Intelsat by Cisco (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30215558)

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

Not even Cisco (2, Insightful)

DesertNomad (885798) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213374)

no such thing as radiation-proof for electronics. Resistant and resilient, perhaps. Radiation-hardened, maybe.

Re:Not even Cisco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30213532)

Not true. Just completely enclose it in a block of lead!

Re:Not even Cisco (1)

askanis42 (1138835) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213574)

Not true. Just completely enclose it in a block of lead!

...which is a really good idea if you want to shoot it into space :)

Re:Not even Cisco (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214230)

    He forgot to mention the forged titanium shell, so it can handle reentry. It'll come down really quick, but you won't lose the mass before impact.

    ooohhhh, you were talking about launch weight. :)

Re:Not even Cisco (3, Interesting)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213838)

I thought I read somewhere that lead is exactly the wrong thing to use if you're shielding against cosmic rays. While cosmic rays themselves are most likely to pass right through human bodies or sensitive electronics without "hitting" anything important. If you shield with lead, the cosmic rays do an excellent job busting alpha (or was it beta) radiation loose from the lead itself, which then wreaks havoc when those particles collide with humans or electronics in the surrounding environment.

Particle physicists, please chime in here and correct my (I am sure numerous) errors.

Re:Not even Cisco (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215244)

Lead is not a good insulator for charged particles because rapidly decelerating particles create X-rays (braking radiation, I'd be damned if I remember how it's written in German). Of course, you can make thick enough lead blocks to adsorb the generated radiation, but It's much better to use insulation made of light chemical elements.

That's why, for example, Apollo spaceships used polyethylene and not lead foil for shielding.

Re:Not even Cisco (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30213604)

But they used valve technology for this one!

Re:Not even Cisco (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214580)

But they used valve technology for this one!

Nearly. From the picture supplied with TFA, it looks like there's a big flywheel sticking out of the end. The whole assembly looks like it belongs under the hood of a Kenworth truck. :-)

Christmas gifts,shoes,Jacket,shoes,handbag,etc (-1, Offtopic)

rycftuytomvysdtgdrh (1685276) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213404)

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Re:Christmas gifts,shoes,Jacket,shoes,handbag,etc (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30213898)

Go stick shellfish forks in your eye sockets you fucking worthless spamming twat.

Reducing delays? (1)

chaynlynk (1523701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213422)

Satalite based communications always had a decent delay.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_Internet_access [wikipedia.org]

"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. "

Re:Reducing delays? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213602)

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 using full-ground path. But rather to improve communications with the satellites themselves by utilizing ground links that are not saturated.

Re:Reducing delays? (1)

thesnide (640733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213648)

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.

Re:Reducing delays? (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213942)

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.

Re:Reducing delays? (1)

cfriedt (1189527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214346)

I would have to agree - I don't see how this can be used to reduce delays.

Re:Reducing delays? (1)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215646)

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.

-John

Re:Reducing delays? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215730)

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 listen in on is probably worth an extra second or two of latency.

Not exactly low latency ... (1)

LS1 Brains (1054672) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213436)

I think its great we're working on stuff like this, but with the satellite likely in geosynchronous orbit that equates to ~250ms packet delays round trip. The applications will obviously need to be tolerant of the delay, not that 1/4 second is out of the ordinary for really long links though.

oblig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30213444)

Man, I'd like to see a beowulf cluster of these

Cisco? (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213454)

How are they going to get the fork lift up there in 3 years to do an upgrade?

Re:Cisco? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30215958)

All modern routers have two flash blocks so you can upgrade one while the other is running and recover in the event of a problem. This does, I worked on the project.

You know... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30213478)

"A radiation-proof Cisco router was sent into space today, and returned to Earth roughly 12 hours later for SmartNET service."

Fixed for realism.

To: Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30213528)

From: Alien Civilization #343322

You are ordered to immediately cease and desist use of all MicroSLOPsoftware.

Happy Thanksgiving !

Yours In Baikonur (Cosmodrome),
K. Trout

No Viop for you (4, Funny)

headhot (137860) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213586)

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

Re:No Viop for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30213712)

As opposed to having to send a signal up to space, send it back down to earth, route it, and then send it back up again? Putting the router is space would *reduce* that latency.

Re:No Viop for you (1)

headhot (137860) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214142)

Not if your second leg did not have to go over the satellite. It would be a very poorly designed system if it did. Most current sat systems don't work this way. The downlink is some where centralized and accessible by other communication transports, like the Pentagon.

Satellites achieve "routing" by effectively circuit selection. If you want to talk to this part of the world, use this freq, other part another freq.

Putting a router in space that will be obsolete in 2 years just doesn't make any sense.

Re:No Viop for you (1)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215488)

This could allow for two spokes on an FDMA system to route directly to each other without having to go through the central hub and two satellite hops. FDMA links are fixed frequencies back to to a hub, so normally for two spokes to talk to each other, you have to take two satellite hops and go through the hub. This should eliminate that.

Of course you could go TDMA, but the number of nodes you can have directly linked to each other via virtual circuits is limited. Again, moving the routing logic to the satellite could allow for these meshes to be larger as you're only competing to get to the satellite instead of all the way up and down. I don't know how this affects TDMA to be honest, though.

So the "reduced latency" from my perspective, is being able to have a single satellite hop (versus multiple hops) between an increased number of nodes without reducing throughput on the entire network. Many DoD network rely on multiple satellite hops to get from A to B, so if you can reduce the hops, you've reduced latency.

Re:No Viop for you (2, Interesting)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216532)

I see a few advantages to this

The first is it reduces the latency when two forward bases want to communicate with each other.

The second is that it means your forward bases can communicate with each other even if your main base is somehow knocked out.

The third is it reduces the load on the downlink to main base.

Of course there are trade-offs to smart satellites, you can't use more complex modulation to get more out of an existing channel for example but you can't easily do that anyway if your satellite is serving lots of ground stations and we are getting pretty close to the limit on modulation efficiency anyway. So I think your "obsolete in two years" is overstating the case severely.

Re:No Viop for you (2, Informative)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215592)

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"... :)

-John

Re:No Viop for you (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30218800)

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.

Re:No Viop for you (1)

SlashDev (627697) | more than 4 years ago | (#30229260)

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.

wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30213666)

I thought there were already hundreds, if not thousands, of satellites already doing this....

Servers next? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213692)

If they put routers into space, then what about servers? Would be the logical next step.

There is a sever on a IBM laptop on the ISS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30213804)

There is a sever on a IBM laptop on the ISS

mcmurdo.gov (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213776)

Back in the earlier days of the less popular Internet, I used to get a kick out of pining mcmurdo.gov , the US base in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica [google.com], 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.

Re:mcmurdo.gov (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214698)

[iggy@cvt30 ~]$ ping -c2 mcmurdo.gov
PING mcmurdo.gov (216.24.138.137) 56(84) bytes of data.

--- mcmurdo.gov ping statistics ---
2 packets transmitted, 0 received, 100% packet loss, time 1000ms

Re:mcmurdo.gov (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214796)

The host I pinged was mcmvax.mcmurdo.gov . But that FQDN, and indeed the mcmurdo.gov domain, have been gone for years.

All the more reason to get to ping Jupiter ASAP.

Re:mcmurdo.gov (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214800)

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!

I see a problem here. (2, Funny)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30213860)

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

muppets (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30213910)

Pings iiiin spaaaaaaace!

Great idea but... (1)

Thorkull (597748) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214258)

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

Re:Great idea but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214846)

I already deal with this at work...we use Telstar 14 and Anik F2 for Internet access at remote sites and it isn't too bad for web browsing and data aquisition.
jitter is all over the place though

H:\tdzubin>ping 172.22.10.98

Pinging 172.22.10.98 with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from 172.22.10.98: bytes=32 time=718ms TTL=55
Reply from 172.22.10.98: bytes=32 time=686ms TTL=55
Reply from 172.22.10.98: bytes=32 time=705ms TTL=55
Reply from 172.22.10.98: bytes=32 time=692ms TTL=55

Ping statistics for 172.22.10.98:
        Packets: Sent = 4, Received = 4, Lost = 0 (0% loss),
Approximate round trip times in milli-seconds:
        Minimum = 686ms, Maximum = 718ms, Average = 700ms

H:\tdzubin>

Re:Great idea but... (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216572)

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

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214396)

How long before an ISP sues NASA for giving space internet for free, clearly abusing their governmental status and money.

Re:How long (1)

cthulhu11 (842924) | more than 4 years ago | (#30223480)

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.

Advantages of on Satellite Routing... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30214514)

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 problematic with IP, since packet acknowledgment takes an additional 320ms from the end point. To ack a single packet is pushing a second when equipment delays are factored in. In addition satellite has inherently higher error rates. A second problem that this system addresses is power. Any transmission medium adds noise. A normal satellite just repeats signals back to earth adding even more noise. The way to combat noise is more power, which in turn adds more noise and limits the amount of data that can be sent relative to the bandwidth.

This system addresses both of those problems. First since signals are sent satellite to satellite, a single ground trip can be avoided. This savings can be up to 160ms one way or 320ms round trip, although in practice it would be less to account for the distance between satellites. The second issue, the power problem, is that since signals are reformed on the satellite you only need enough power to reach the satellite, rather than enough to reach the satellite and back to earth. This saves power and improves signal integrity all around. This all serves to reduce packet loss and improve the overall utilization of resources.

 

Wrong Launch Date (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30214874)

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. =)

Geosynchronous? Who's got the console cable? (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215100)

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?

An obvious problem.. (1)

DrBuzzo (913503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215200)

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?

Oh great. (1)

ddusza (775603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215422)

It all starts with a single router in space. Then it becomes SkyNet--The Network. How soon before we need to find John Conner because some assembly robots develop a bad attitude....

Which code train is it running (1)

Initi (1031362) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215916)

12.3? 12.4? SXH? SXI? I'm sure it is the IP Enterprise Edition of some flavor.

Not a bad improvement (1)

times05 (1683662) | more than 4 years ago | (#30215990)

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 makes for a very crappy/laggy WoW connection out here :) Now with these new satellites that they are not just dumb boxes that retransmit everything you send to it back down to earth it will look something like this: Iraq >>> Sat1 >>> Sat2 >>> US. Shorter path with less hops means that my level 80 shaman will have a little better chance of killing your level 80 paladin. Oh and the reason for the hop to Kuwait is Kuwait has actual Step Sites (Big sites with large dishes built into the ground) as opposed to Iraq and Afghanistan being seeded with tactical vehicle mounted crap-ware equipment. So this whole router being built into Intelsat satellite is a very good thing IMHO.

Re:Not a bad improvement (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216906)

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 [telesat.com] 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.

Re:Not a bad improvement (1)

Sepodati (746220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217500)

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 frequencies and usage. Probably save a lot of money, too. Win-win. :)

-John

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