In the future, military communications may take place via routers located in space

The U.S. Department of Defense plans on launching a satellite that will carry an Internet router into space in 2009.  Internet Routing in Space, or IRIS, will allow U.S. ground troops to have voice, data and video communications while carrying out missions.  Cisco and Intelsat General plan on working together on the project over the next three years.

Cisco will build the routers while Intelsat will manage both the satellite and routers.  The satellite will be located in geostationary orbit at 45 degrees west longitude, offering coverage for Europe, the Americas and Africa.

The project will interconnect two Ku-band and one C-band coverage areas.  Flexible IP packet routing and multicast distribution that can be adjusted on demand are two key highlights behind the technology that will be fully utilized.

Routers in orbit could have a strong impact on future Internet technologies for civilian and non-military uses.  It may one day be possible to send data directly between satellites, instead of having it travel through ground stations.  Direct IP routing could take place with multiple satellites, meaning routing via ground-based teleports would no longer be required if the project is successful.  

"Iris is to the future of satellite-based communications what Arpanet was to the creation of the Internet in the 1960s," said Intelsat's Don Brown.

Six other projects have been given funding by the U.S. Department of Defense.

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