Internet beams out into space

The US space agency's (Nasa) spacecraft and satellites could soon have their own net address. The agency is working on a project to make it easier to retrieve data from space vehicles in orbit or deep space and is turning to net data protocols to help. The project will allow mission scientists to use a standard web browser to monitor spacecraft and to swap data with them or their crews.

The technology to link spacecraft to the web is being tested on the current space shuttle mission and briefly turned the Columbia craft into a node on the net. Nasa is keen to use standard terrestrial techniques to route data to and from satellites and spacecraft to cut costs and make off-planet resources easier to manage. The space agency currently uses a mish-mash of ageing hardware and software to keep in touch with spacecraft and to ship data back and forth.

By converting to tried and tested technologies used to keep the net running, Nasa believes it can cut the numbers of staff needed to ensure spacecraft stay in touch.To test the technology the Columbia space shuttle was fitted with an embedded PC that has a 233 MHz processor, 128 MB of RAM and a solid-state 144 MB hard drive.

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News source: WinBeta

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