TCP/IP for Space

Networking protocols such as TCP/IP allow data packets to be routed across a network using various network pathways and then re-assemble the packets into their original form when they all arrive. But it expects this to happen within a specific timeframe and when delays exceed this limit, the process “times out” and aborts. This works fine for most network communications, but there are some networks that will have much longer delays inherent in the operating environment, such as outer space where distance may create long delays. Other environment that may require long delays include disaster response, military operations, underwater networks and self meshing networks of sensors. Work has begun on revising networking protocols to allow operations with such extreme delays.

An Internet Designed for Space – []

Networking our space resources is a key element of a space-based infrastructure. Right now, most space exploration has involved point-to-point radio links. When you wanted to communicate with a distant spacecraft like Voyager 2, you had to dedicate expensive radio dishes to that specific task. A system in which we can store and forward data among spacecraft lets us maximize our communications, letting multiple missions forward their data to a central node on the interplanetary Net for subsequent transmission to Earth. As space testing of delay tolerant methods grows, the Bundle Protocol is also in action in various academic settings and in NASA laboratories. The building of an interplanetary network backbone has commenced.

Delay Tolerant Networking Research Group – []

What is DTNRG?

The Delay-Tolerant Networking Research Group (DTNRG) is a research group chartered as part of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF). Members of DTNRG are concerned with how to address the architectural and protocol design principles arising from the need to provide interoperable communications with and among extreme and performance-challenged environments where continuous end-to-end connectivity cannot be assumed. Said another way, we are concerned with interconnecting highly heterogeneous networks together even if end-to-end connectivity may never be available. Examples of such environments include spacecraft, military/tactical, some forms of disaster response, underwater, and some forms of ad-hoc sensor/actuator networks. It may also include Internet connectivity in places where performance may suffer such as developing parts of the world.

NASA Successfully Tests First Deep Space Internet – []

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA has successfully tested the first deep space communications network modeled on the Internet.
Working as part of a NASA-wide team, engineers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., used software called Disruption-Tolerant Networking, or DTN, to transmit dozens of space images to and from a NASA science spacecraft located about 20 million miles from Earth.

“This is the first step in creating a totally new space communications capability, an interplanetary Internet,” said Adrian Hooke, team lead and manager of space-networking architecture, technology and standards at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

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