Future Lab: Networking in Space

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In 2009 the Irish rock band U2 experienced the realities of space communication when they connected in a live 2-way video conference between Bono on the concert stage in front of stadium audiences and astronauts in the International Space Station. There’s only about a half second delay from the surface of our planet to the ISS so delays are generally minor. But such a hook-up would be impossible, as a real-time back-and-forth connection, from Mars. If you were going to set up a data network in space, distance would be one challenge – the revolutions of planets and the orbits of space craft pose further difficulties. But there is a solution in development. Internet pioneers such as Vint Cerf and Kevin Fall have been working with NASA on a Delay Tolerant Network protocol to do in space what TCP/IP has done on earth.

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