Space was the final frontier for Star Trek and is now the final frontier for
Ethernet networks thanks to EADS. This week the European Union’s Columbus space
module carried with it the first commercial LAN in space.
The Columbus module that rendezvoused with the International Space Station carried
customized ProCurve 100Mbps LAN switches. The switches according to eWeek
are to both connect the computers on the space station and the scientific
The previous network on the space station used much slower 10 Mbps Cabletron
LAN hubs. EWeek quotes Rolf Schmidhuber, Columbus data management system
technology leader for EADS Space Transportation in Germany as saying,
“Originally we only had connected our computers with the 10 megabit LAN, but we
felt it wasn't fast enough. We wanted higher performance for the payloads. So
we built the system to support scientific payloads accommodated in 19 inch
racks, with those payloads connected to the LAN.”
EADS says it selected the ProCurve switches after evaluating switches from
manufacturers including Avaya, Cisco, D-Link, Netgear and 3Com. After
evaluation ProCurve 2524 switches were selected for the module. EADS says it
made some customizations to the switches for safe and reliable usage in space.
Schmidhuber told eWeek, “We have taken the ProCurve as it is, without
electrical modifications. The only thing we modified is the cooling method. We
removed the heat sink in the switching fabric and substituted it with copper
strips that conduct the heat to the housing ground plate.”
An aluminum enclosure was designed for the switches to help them withstand
intense vibration associated with space flight.
Astronauts are able
to get satellite TV on the International Space Station thanks to DirecTV.
With this faster LAN perhaps they can get their game on with some WoW or Counter-Strike.