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New Internet for Space, New Technologies to Test
By: Brian Sutherland
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    Table of Contents:
  • New Internet for Space, New Technologies to Test
  • Disruption-Tolerant Networking (DTN)
  • NASA, The Epoxi and Historical Makeup
  • Possible Futures of DTN Technology

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    New Internet for Space, New Technologies to Test - NASA, The Epoxi and Historical Makeup

    (Page 3 of 4 )


    The Epoxi is best known as the Deep Impact spacecraft that passed by the Comet Tempel 1 in 2005. It was chosen for these early testing tasks because its spacecraft architecture was well-suited to uploading new communications protocols. 

    Primarily, the main immediate benefits are quicker, more stable communications while in deep space. Historically, a communications team would have to schedule each link and handle all commands (which data, when to send it, where to send it) specifying how data would be sent. With the standardization of DTN, itís said that all of this can be handled automatically, saving both time and resources. 

    Currently, teams are also working on getting this protocol accepted by the international community, which would allow other spacecraft to join node-based networks. As more and more spacecraft communicate through DTN, this could also have the side benefit of alleviating traffic on NASAís existing Deep Space Network, our current collection of ground-based radio antennas communicating with deep space probes. 

    Future expectations include summertime testing, installation aboard the International Space Station, and based upon that success, implementation on a variety of existing and future space missions. On the note of interplanetary security against hackers, traditional methods for data security most likely will not be applicable. Passing or obtaining a usable encryption key may not be feasible when the sender is disconnected for any period of time. On top of this, any data transmitted is relayed in a chain and should only need to be transmitted once in some encrypted fashion. 

    Recently, notions of an identity-based cryptography have been considered. As well as discussing the ideology to transmit or accept transmission of data, each node must identify itself to its companion node, a concept called mutual suspicion. This concept includes access controls, user authentication, data integrity and privacy. 

    Complicated missions like multiple landings, orbiting spacecrafts, and tracking mobile units could far more easily be supported using this technology and provide a solid basis of communication for astronauts in space. In the short term, the moon and Mars are the most likely targets for the next phases of implementation. 

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