top of page

IPNSIG Newsletter for January 2021


We will be publishing a newsletter every month, highlighting some topics of interest to our membership. Our inaugural newsletter is authored by IPNSIG cofounder and Board Member Vint Cerf.


As I write these words, I am listening to Jupiter by Holst and thinking about the increased pace of space exploration and development as this third decade of the 21st Century progresses. The commercialization of space is not new, given that communication satellites have been around since 1962 when Telstar 1 was launched, but the ambitious scope of Elon Musk’s Starlink plans and the pace at which SpaceX is launching both crewed and uncrewed vehicles highlight a “space rush” that echoes the “land rushes” of the late 1800s in Oklahoma and elsewhere. Blue Origin (Bezos), OneWeb (UK Government and Bharti Global) and Virgin Galactic (Branson) are all illustrative of this renaissance. Adding to that, there are the multiple successful Moon missions launched by China, the Mars and outer planet missions of the US and Europe and Japan’s mission to the asteroids. Crewed missions are picking up steam with the eight-country Artemis and Gateway missions to return to the Moon. Plans continue for the longer term sample-return and crewed missions to Mars and other deep space targets. New space telescopes are soon to be launched. All of this activity demands enhancement of communication support for the crewed and robotic missions to come.

IPNSIG’s focus on developing space-based networking is relevant and timely. While the design of the Interplanetary Internet, sometimes called the Solar System Internet, began in 1998 at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, it has reached a new stage of maturity as NASA, ESA, JAXA among others plan infusion of the delay and disruption tolerant Bundle Protocol (BP) into current and planned missions and infrastructure. Active members of IPNSIG are reporting implementation of the Bundle Protocol and its companion Licklider Transmission Protocol (LTP) in the Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services Cloud. Implementations are progressing for CubeSats, Raspberry Pi’s and Android-based mobile phones. Delay and Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) is becoming a practical reality including an application to track reindeer in the far north of Sweden by the University of Luleå. All of these are signs that IPNSIG’s primary mission, the extension of the conceptual Internet into space, is entering a new and energetic phase.

The expansion of the IPNSIG Board and election of new Board Chair Yosuke Kaneko of JAXA underscores the opportunity for IPNSIG to make material contributions to the maturation of space-based communication protocols. In the months ahead, I hope and expect that we can offer opportunities to IPNSIG members to support the renewed global interest in space exploration and potential commercialization.

What an exciting time to be alive!


bottom of page