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Announcing the IPNSIG Blog

Welcome to the InterPlanetary Networking Blog!

We intend to make this a weekly publication of interest to everyone interested in InterPlanetary Networking (IPN), Delay & Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN), and computer networking in general.

Since this is the inaugural blog entry, we thought it would be useful to back up a bit and answer some basic questions:

What is IPN?

It is a solution to the constrained network environment present in space data communications and, more generally, in the emerging Internet of Things.

TCP/IP, the core technology [BSC(1] running today’s Internet, assumes essentially instantaneous, continuous end-to-end connectivity, and fails when it encounters delay or disruption of any significant length (about 4 seconds).

However, delays and disruptions are inherent in data communications at interplanetary distances, with the shortest Round Trip Time (RTT) for a radio signal to travel to Mars and back being about 7 minutes. Other factors contribute to the network constraints existing in interplanetary communications, but delay is the most significant factor making existing Internet protocols impractical for use.

Enter DTN:

Adrian Hooke (Sr. Technical Director with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA) meets Vint Cerf (co-author of the TCP/IP protocols and one of “Fathers of the Internet”) in the late 1990’s. They discover they both want to provide the same kind of network communications automation in space networking that works so well on the Internet.

Vint Cerf gets to work. A terse history follows:

  • DARPA funds work at JPL.

  • Core experimental “delay-tolerant networking” protocols developed by JPL, MITRE, Sparta researchers.

  • ION implementation of DTN developed at JPL for use by NASA.

  • DTNRG established to mature the protocols.

  • ION demonstrated on the EPOXI spacecraft in deep space.

  • ION deployed for all science payload communications on ISS.

Where is IPN today?

  • IETF DTN Working Group formed to establish DTN protocols as Internet standards.

  • Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS—a global standards setting organization for civilian space flight) standards adoption well underway.

  • Security Protocols maturing (including Public Key Infrastructure—PKI).

  • Dr. Scott Pace (White House Space Policy Director) challenges NASA to use DTN for all space communications (see for Dr. Pace’s presentation at our 2015 IPN Speakers Conference).

  • NASA integrating DTN into ground networks and future spacecraft.

IPN’s bright future

  • Increasing standardization amongst civilian space agencies.

  • Increasing international research into DTN for constrained terrestrial as well as space networking environments.

  • Coming adoption as internet standards.

What’s next for the blog?

Each week, we will post news about the exciting world of IPN, or summaries of academic research, or links to IPN in the mainstream media. We’ll also be announcing upcoming IPNSIG events and activities. We hope you enjoy the blog.

This blog is a product of the usual suspects: Scott Burleigh (NASA/JPL); Jay Wyatt (NASA/JPL); Keith Scott (Mitre Corp./CCSDS) and Mike Snell (IPNSIG)


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