The Interplanetary Internet

Google's Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf isn't satisfied with one world - he wants to unite the planets in a vast Interplanetary Internet. His "IP for ET" is not the earthly one; he is suggesting that a new protocol will be needed. In a recent interview, he offers these comments:

We recognized as far back as 1998 that the traditional Internet design had implicit in it the assumption that there was good connectivity, and relatively low latency, whereas in a space environment, when you are talking at interplanetary distances, you have speed-of-light delays and those can be minutes to days. We need this new Bundle Protocol to overcome the latencies and all the disconnects that occur in space, from celestial motion [and from] orbiting satellites.

The Bundle Protocols are running onboard the International Space Station. They are running in a number of locations around the United States in the NASA labs and in academic environments. There's a thing called the Bundle Bone, which is like the IPv6 backbone, that is linking a lot of these research activities to one another. There's at least one rather experimental implementation of the Bundle Protocol for the Android operating system, but it's not production quality, so it really needs to be redone/revisited.

There is a spacecraft called EPOXI that used to be called Deep Impact spacecraft (it fired a penetrator into a comet a few years ago in order to expose the interior for spectrographic analysis). The spacecraft is still in orbit around the sun and it just visited the Comet Hartley 2 in November 2010. We've uploaded the InterPlanetary protocols to that spacecraft and we've done testing of them at approximately 80 light seconds.

Science fiction fans have been waiting for interplanetary communication to get on the table. The idea of improved communication in outer space is one of the pet projects put forward by communications engineer - and science fiction writer - George O. Smith in his 1942 story QRM - Interplanetary. Smith writes extensively about the need for solar system-wide communications.

The Venus Equilateral Relay Station was a modern miracle of engineering if you liked to believe the books. Actually, Venus Equilateral was an asteroid that had been shoved into its orbit about the Sun, forming a practical demonstration of the equilateral triangle solution of the Three Moving Bodies. It was a long cylinder, about three miles in length by about a mile in diameter...

This was the center of Interplanetary Communications. This was the main office. It was the heart of the Solar System's communication line, and as such, it was well manned. Orders for everything emanated from Venus Equilateral.

Update 14-Jun-1986 Here's an earlier reference to this idea; take a look at the Interplanetary Radiograph Station from On The Martian Way (1907) by Harry Gore Bishop. End update.

Via Network World.

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