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  • IP Routing in Space
    Posted by Nicholas Fiorenza 5:45 PM on Jan 22, 2010

    Starting on 28 January 2010, the Department of Defense in Washington will begin a 90-day demonstration to determine the suitability of Internet Protocol (IP) Routing in Space (IRIS) for US and NATO forces. The NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A) announced today that it will use IRIS for measurement and testing to determine its benefits for allied forces after having participated in a preliminary assessment last spring.

    blog post photo
    NC3A photo

    The IRIS payload from Cisco is carried by the Intelsat 14 satellite launched on 23 November 2009. The payload was powered up in orbit on 1 December, followed by network testing beginning on 17 December 2009 before the IRIS capability became operational.

    Unlike previous satellite communications (SATCOM), IRIS allows the routing of IP packets in orbit across satellite beams. NC3A cites one of the advantages of IRIS over conventional satellite technology as being that it can route data between ground users covered by different satellite beams in a single satellite hop, thus reducing transponder use and increasing efficiency. Furthermore, the payload regenerates the received signals, improving the end-to-end signal performance and allowing a reduction in the size of sending and receiving terminals. IRIS will provide users with a mobile network allowing them to connect and communicate how, when and where they want, and that continuously adapts to their requirements without reliance on a predefined, fixed infrastructure, according to NC3A. Finally, the software of the router and onboard modem can be upgraded from the ground, increasing the flexibility of the system to implement future waveform and router standards.

    The NATO SATCOM architecture is designed for capabilities like IRIS to be easily integrated. The IRIS capability is envisaged as a part of NATO Network-Enabled Capability (NNEC).

    Tags: ar99, space, NATO

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