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Thread: High Speed Internet Access for ISS and Spacecraft

  1. #1
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    High Speed Internet Access for ISS and Spacecraft

    Does the ISS have high speed internet access? The ISS whips in and out of sight of ground stations that sending and receiving whole packets of information would be problematical... I think.

    I would be all upset if the ISS has better high speed internet than me.
    Solfe

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    "Triangles are my favorite shape
    "Three points where two lines meet"
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  2. #2
    And if they do, is there some process in place to screen out the astronaut candidates who just want to go to get the higher internet speed?

  3. #3
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    One possible answer is that they basically have no internet access, with the downlink being used up by experiments/requirements:
    http://www.quora.com/International-S...ce-Station-ISS

  4. #4
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    I found this on NASA.gov from 2010.

    Astronauts aboard the International Space Station received a special software upgrade this week - personal access to the Internet and the World Wide Web via the ultimate wireless connection.

    Expedition 22 Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer made first use of the new system Friday, when he posted the first unassisted update to his Twitter account, @Astro_TJ, from the space station. Previous tweets from space had to be e-mailed to the ground where support personnel posted them to the astronaut's Twitter account.

    "Hello Twitterverse! We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station -- the 1st live tweet from Space! More soon, send your ?s"

    This personal Web access, called the Crew Support LAN, takes advantage of existing communication links to and from the station and gives astronauts the ability to browse and use the Web. The system will provide astronauts with direct private communications to enhance their quality of life during long-duration missions by helping to ease the isolation associated with life in a closed environment.

    During periods when the station is actively communicating with the ground using high-speed Ku-band communications, the crew will have remote access to the Internet via a ground computer. The crew will view the desktop of the ground computer using an onboard laptop and interact remotely with their keyboard touchpad.
    But this article from 2011 says it isn't a very good connection.
    Responding to a question thrown out by an audience member at a celebration for Canada Day in Edmonton, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said that online gaming is impossible on the ISS because Internet connection speeds are on par with dial-up. This is because the space station travels at about five miles per second. Holy Batman!

    Hadfield's word echoes those of astronauts Greg Johnson and Ron Garan from a PBS NewsHour webcast back in May.

    According to Johnson, who was a pilot for the STS-134 mission, astronauts on the Shuttle "really don't partake in the Internet." Say what? "We've got synchronizations with our emails. It kind of gives us a pseudo-email or pseudo-Internet to communicate with our families and friends and our associates."
    At night the stars put on a show for free (Carole King)

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  5. #5
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    Googling around, the ISS has 50Mbps datalink provided over TDRSS, which uses geostationary comsats. This results in large signal latency (300ms per satellite hop) which renders online gaming impossible (bandwidth is not an issue with gaming, latency is). On the other hand, web browsing, e-mail, file upload, twitter, etc. all will work. Also it seems that access is intermittent -- station doesn't always have visibility of TDRSS sats.

    I'm actually quite surprised that NASA did not provide ISS with a dedicated, always-on Internet access. In the 1990s people in the telecommunication field generally agreed that all communication in the future is going to be based on IP (*) and the ISS project was so expensive that a few billion for that would not make much difference...

    (*) OK, some folks believed it would rather be ATM than IP, but IP works over ATM also

  6. #6
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    It appears high speed internet on the ISS is far more complex than I thought.
    Solfe

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "Triangles are my favorite shape
    "Three points where two lines meet"
    Tessellate, Alt-J

  7. #7
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    FYI -- the current ISS CDR was on reddit today answering questions, so apparently web browsing works http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comment...ntly_orbiting/

    My laptop here onboard communicates to a server in Houston via satellite relay, and that server on the ground is hooked through a computer to the internet. The data rate is very slow, not fast enough to watch video, but perfect for things like Reddit and Twitter. We have the data link about half the time.

    No Skype, but when we have the right communications links I can directly access the internet in Mission Control, Houston, and Tweet and do this AMA real-time. We have that link many times, every day. It's a great capability to have, really lets the crew keep in touch.

    Currently just off the Western coast of Australia in the Indian Ocean.
    ETA: Aha. See diagram on page 2 of this: http://msp.gsfc.nasa.gov/TUBE/pdf/infopack.pdf -- TDRS has a blind spot over the Indian Ocean. Couple with the fact that ISS must keep orientation w.r.t. Earth (which can make aiming antenna at the satellite difficult for some angles) and that explains why the coverage is erratic.

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