InterPlanetary Networking Special Interest Group (IPNSIG) Rotating Header Image

Letter to Members re ISS DTN Go Live

Dear Chapter Members–

An item of interest for you:

NASA has just announced that Delay & Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) has just gone live for all communications to the International Space Station (ISS). This is a really significant step forward for DTN and InterPlanetary Networking. While DTN has been used since 2010 for communications between scientists on the ground and their scientific payloads onboard ISS, NASA had to be much more careful in deploying ISS for operational communications, which are critical to crew safety and flight operations. It took over a year to review and approve the Change Request. NASA’s decision to go live with DTN is a huge vote of confidence for its reliability and fitness-to-task for space communications.

Here is a link to the official NASA announcement:

Many, many people and organizations have worked for many years to make this a reality. Key organizations include the the DTN Research Group of the Internet Research Task Force, who developed and tested the protocol suite; Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who developed the Interplanetary Overlay Network (ION) implementation of DTN, and the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS), who reviewed and approved the Bundle Protocol and Licklider Transport Protocols for use in civilian space flight.

We are fortunate to have members of our Chapter and our Board who have been key players in this effort. These include:

Board member Vint Cerf, widely recognized as one of the “Fathers of the Internet” for his work on the design of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet, also helped secure the DARPA funding to launch the initial InterPlanetary Internet studies within NASA/JPL.

Vice Chair Scott Burleigh, who has led the development of the ION implementation of DTN (which is the version in use on ISS). He coauthored the DTN Architecture definition (Internet RFC 4838) and also the specification for the DTN Bundle Protocol (BP, Internet RFC 5050).  In addition, he is a co-author of the specifications for the Licklider Transmission Protocol (LTP, Internet RFCs 5325 through 5327).

Board member Keith Scott began working on the Interplanetary Internet in 1998, implemented a precursor to the current Bundle Protocol, and is co-author of the Bundle Protocol (RFC 5050).  Keith currently serves as Area Director for Space Internetworking Systems for the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) and leads the CCSDS DTN working group that is standardizing DTN protocols for use in civilian space missions.

Board member Jay Wyatt who, through his role in managing the JPL Space Networking and Mission Automation Program Office has led various DTN development activities including the first deep space flight validation of DTN on NASA’s EPOXi mission.  Currently Jay is the programmatic point of contact for DTN development at JPL and is involved in pursuing various opportunities to infuse DTN into upcoming deep space missions and to complete development of the DTN software suite.

And, finally, we want to acknowledge our departed colleague, IPNSIG Board Member and tireless advocate of DTN, Adrian Hooke, who led the interplanetary networking initiatives within NASA/JPL for many years. Please see for more information about Adrian’s contributions to the field.

Mike Snell

President, the InterPlanetary Network Chapter

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