Cisco Tests In-Space Router

Cisco announces that it has successfully tested a radiation-tolerant router aboard a commercial satellite, the first step in creating IP networking technology that can run in space.

The test, part of the Defense Department's Internet Routing in Space program, can lead to less latency and better efficiency in moving voice, video and data traffic, according to Cisco. The military will test it now for the next three months, followed by commercial tests by Cisco.

Cisco Systems has successfully tested an IP router and related software in space.

The next step is to see if the technology can work well enough for military and commercial uses.

Cisco announced Jan. 18 that the Department of Defense's IRIS (Internet Routing in Space) technology program successfully tested the radiation-tolerant router and the Cisco IOS Software's networking capability that was launched Nov. 23, 2009, on a satellite built by Intelsat General.

The goal of the program is to enable the routing of voice, video and data traffic from one satellite to the next using common Internet Protocol, without having to move between relay satellites or to stations on Earth. The in-space router would be able to send data to multiple ground receivers in a single step, reducing latency and increasing transponder utilization by eliminating multiple hops between the satellites and Earth.

It also will improve communications capabilities for users.

"This milestone is another step in our strategy to expand borderless networks into space and redefine how satellite communications are delivered," Steven Boutelle, vice president of Cisco's Global Government Solutions Group, said in a statement. "This technology can help transform satellite communications around the world by reducing latency and increasing the efficiency."

The IRIS program is a DOD Joint Capability Technology Demonstration that is managed by Cisco and Intelsat. The Defense Department will test the technology for military use over a three-month period ending in April. After that, Cisco will test it for commercial uses for a year.

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