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STINT 2021 Starts today

STINT PosterSpace and Terrestrial Internetworking Workshops (STINT) for 2021 starts today, July 26, 2021.

A slide deck describing the conference is available here: slides-stint-2021. For more information about the conference, please see the STINT 2021 home page.


2021 STINT Workshop Coming Soon!

STINT PosterThis year’s Space Terrestrial Internetworking (STINT) Workshops commence next week (26-July through 29-July). This year’s STINT has an especially full agenda of papers and presentations, including a keynote address on the State of the Solar System Internet by IPNSIG Board Member and Internet Pioneer Vint Cerf. For more information, see the STINT 2021 Home Page at The full Workshop schedule is available here.


STINT Keynotes

June/July Newsletter 2021

AMcroppedCreating a high-speed backbone for the Interplanetary Internet

Earlier this year, we were truly amazed watching the high-quality videos coming from the Mars’ Perseverance mission descend on Mars. NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) is the current interplanetary communications backbone that made watching these videos possible. The DSN relies on radio frequency signals and a global ground network to provide communications from Earth to the upmost distant spacecrafts (Voyager twins), in addition to the many missions being carried out across our solar system. The Deep Space Network is completed by NASA’s Near Earth Network, a series of ground stations providing support to spacecrafts closer to Earth (all the way to the Moon) and the NASA Space network, a satellite relay service that provides up to 24×7 coverage of spacecrafts near Earth such as the International Space Station (ISS), and supporting mission launches as they transit the low Earth orbit. The European Space Agency’s Estrack network also provides for deep space and near Earth capabilities, Russia, China, Japan and India also have space networks with at least certain coverage of near and deep space.

Surprisingly, the DSN was formally created in the 70’s, much before Earth’s network of networks, the Internet. At the time, data communications were not part of the day to day communications paradigms so networks were very much focused on physical (radio) and link layer (e.g. error correction and link establishment/maintenance). Because of it, the DSN as well as the space and near Earth networks have gone through major upgrades to enhance communications to adapt to digital/data communications as well as improving link and physical layer capabilities. The DSN, being a limited resource (e.g. there is only one 70 m Antenna per coverage area), is slowly becoming a bottleneck as the number of missions (and data transmission requirements) increase. It has also come to a point in which these systems have stressed out the physical characteristics of the microwave links (and coding schemes) to get the highest throughput, i.e. several Megabit per second (106 bit/sec) at Mars. This is just enough to transmit one stream of video at high definition. Now, compare this to having Gigabit (109 bit/sec) at home, and you get an idea of the data rate requirements for a settlement on the Moon or Mars. A new high-speed backbone is needed for the Interplanetary Internet!


Figure. Downlink data rate evolution, from JPL/DESCANSO Deep Space Communications Book.


NASA, other space agencies and the private sector have been working on the next steps in high-speed space communications. A major change that requires moving up from radio frequencies (with wavelengths in the centimeter order) to optical frequencies (tens to hundreds of nanometer). This would allow for higher throughput, in the order of hundreds of megabit per seconds to Mars. Many experiments and demonstrations are being built to elevate the technical readiness of the high-speed space optical network.

  • In 2013, NASA successfully launched the Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration (LLCD) which was capable of achieving 622 Megabit per second (Mbps) from the Moon.
  • Later this year (2021), NASA will launch the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD), a demonstration of a two way laser relay system, critical in creating a near-Earth space optical network. This is the first stepping stone in augmenting the existing radio-based TDRS (Tracking Data Relay System). The LCRD will also make use of the new Optical Ground Stations (OGS-1 in California and OGS-2 in Hawaii). Note the European Space Agency (ESA) have already made 1-way optical relay possible with their European Data Relay System (EDRS) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have completed direct link checkout with optical ground systems in preparation to provide 2-way optical inter-satellite relay services using the Japanese Data Relay System (JDRS).
  • Also in 2021, NASA will launch the Terabyte Infrared Delivery (TBIRD) demonstration in low-Earth orbit that plans, via an optical link on a CubeSat, to achieve burst download speeds of 200 Gigabit per second, allowing for downloading large amount of data per day (Terabytes, hence the name).
  • In 2022, NASA plans to deliver the Integrated LCRD Low Earth Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal (ILLUMA-T) aboard the International Space Station (ISS), becoming the first experimental space user of the LCRD, with the goal of achieving bit rates up to 1.2 Gigabit per second to Earth, increasing the bandwidth for research and development experiments’ data.
  • Launched in 2022, JPL’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) payload will travel onboard the Psyche mission spacecraft. Starting its first year of travel (the spacecraft is expected to reach the 16 Psyche asteroid in 2026), the experiment will test optical communications over extreme distances, obtaining valuable information about pointing challenges, among others. For the ground segment, two existing telescopes are enhanced including a new Ground Laser transmitter and a receiver respectively. The goal is to achieve 10 to 100 more throughput than conventional (RF) systems using comparable size and power.

These experiments and demonstrations will lead to the use of the Orion Optical Communications System (known as O2O or Optical to Orion) in the Artemis II mission aimed for 2023. The goal of the optical communications system is to be able to support throughput over 600 Megabit per second, enough to livestream ultra high-definition (also known as 4k) video from the Moon.

As the above lines indicate, there is great research, development, experimentation and plans going on for creating a high-speed space communications backbone. And there is more to it. Enabling a high-speed network also requires better performance at the networking level. Existing Delay Tolerant Networking (DTN) implementations may not be fast-enough in processing and routing/forwarding bundles (the data), potentially becoming a bottleneck. There are already signs of this issue in the DTN implementation on the International Space Station (ISS). Researchers at NASA Glenn Research Center are working on a High-speed DTN architecture to optimize spacecraft hardware design to better accommodate for high-speed (DTN) networking.

From our group, the InterPlanetary Networking Special Interest Group (IPNSIG), we encourage you to continue gaining interest in space networking, and to contribute to our mission of realizing a functional and scalable system of interplanetary data communications: The High-Speed Interplanetary Internet!


Dr. Alberto Montilla

IPNSIG Board Member

Spatiam Corporation Founding Board Member

Announcing Strategy Working Group Report


The IPNSIG is excited to announce the release of the report, “Strategy Toward a Solar System Internet For Humanity”

IPNSIG SWG REPORT 2021-June  (Compressed): IPNSIG] SWG REPORT 2021-June

IPNSIG SWG REPORT 2021-June-High Def  (High Definition): IPNSIG SWG Report 2021-June High Definition

Assembled by the IPNSIG’s Strategy Working Group (SWG), this constitutes the first attempt to lay out a strategy toward the realization of a Solar System Internet (SSI).

In this report, and taking into account the lessons learned from the creation and deployment of the Internet, we have addressed the different challenges that will define the future of this endeavour, looking a hundred years ahead. Among them:

How to deliver a Solar System Internet? A mission to carry out such an endeavor will require the engagement of many stakeholders: governments, academia, private sector and the general public. To help address this, we’ve laid out a set of strategic principles that would guide the public-private efforts needed to deliver this collective mission, together with an overview of the involvement of the different stakeholders over time.

Related to this, how to realize an interplanetary connectivity infrastructure that will remain sustainable: neutral, open and decentralized? For which, we’ve laid out a set of key properties that would ideally be assumed by public and private stakeholders in the pursuit of an SSI.

Potential technical, operational and political challenges toward the development of an SSI are also addressed and discussed.

Altogether to present an early roadmap of recommended actions toward an SSI, and stating how the IPNSIG will contribute in the pursuit of this endeavor. Indeed, the IPNSIG will keep developing its current Working Groups, with the goal of accomplishing the roles it has envisioned.

Our final goal with this report is to help us all acknowledge, based on evidence and lessons learned, that the collective creation and development of an SSI could be possible.

Because of this, and following the release of this report, we will engage in advocacy efforts to communicate this message to relevant public and private stakeholders, in hopes to kickstart awareness about the creation of a Solar System Internet.

I am proud to march forward in this endeavor, together with the great team that we have, and with the entire IPNSIG membership.

Last but not least: this report was furnished thanks to the inputs, ideas and suggestions that you shared with us at the successful IPNSIG Strategy Workshop held in February, 2021

This quest is a collective one, and a huge thanks to your engagement and support. Let us know of any comments, feedback or further proposals to the report, if any, by emailing  We welcome your voices.


Thank you.

SWG Lead and Chair of IPNSIG

Yosuke Kaneko

Reinventing Space Conference Next Weel

Reinventing Space Conference 2021 kicks off in London Next Week

The British Interplanetary Society’s 18th conference will focus on the environmental and sustainability issues around space exploration – such as space debris, environmental impact of spaceports, and Earth observation, and also on the opportunity for the space industry to contribute to economic recovery following Covid-19.

For more information (and to purchase tickets) please see:

Communicating over Extreme Distances– Speaker Bio

DBheadshotDr. Don M. Boroson is a Laboratory Fellow in the Communication Systems Division of MIT Lincoln Laboratory. He has had a long career there with a focus, since the mid-1980s, on space-based laser communications systems.  He has experience in many facets of this exciting field, from mathematical analyses of phenomena and system performance, to invention of novel subsystems, to devising complete system architectures.  He has also led teams developing a wide range of relevant technologies, as well as designing, building, and fielding end-to-end systems.

Dr. Boroson was Lincoln’s lead lasercom engineer for the GeoLITE program, which, in 2001, became the world’s first successful space-based, high-rate lasercom system.  He served as the lead system engineer on NASA’s Mars Laser Communications Demonstration program, which ended up not flying because of the 2005 cancellation of the larger satellite it was to be carried on, but which devised many concepts and architectures that are now considered standard for Deep Space lasercom systems.

He was then Principal Investigator and Lincoln Program Manager for NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration which, in 2013, became the world’s first Moon-to-Earth lasercom system, and which also set a number of other records including being the first truly error-free space-to-ground laser communication system, to being the highest rate duplex Moon-to-Earth communication system of any sort, to being the world’s longest lasercom system to date.

Dr. Boroson holds undergraduate and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from Princeton University.

Register for Upcoming Webinar: Communicating over Extreme Distances


lasercomm_bannerOn Thursday, June 24th, 2021 from 10:00-11:00 EDT (14:00-15:00 UTC) the InterPlanetary Networking Special Interest Group (IPNSIG) hosts a webinar ‘Communicating over Extreme Distances’. Dr. Don Boroson from MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory will present some of the challenges involved in interstellar space communications. These include improvements in laser communication signal gain, signal aiming, and electronic component survivability, among others.  The webinar is free, but you must register to attend.

Register in advance for this webinar:




Communicating Over Extreme Distances Webinar

“Communicating Over Extreme Distances Webinar” coming soon!


On Thursday, June 24th, 2021 from 10:00-11:00 EDT (14:00-15:00 UTC) the InterPlanetary Networking Special Interest Group (IPNSIG) will host a webinar: ‘Communicating over Extreme Distances’.

Dr. Don Boroson from MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory will present some of the challenges involved in interstellar space communications. These include improvements in laser communication signal gain, signal aiming, and electronic component survivability, among others. Moderated by Vint Cerf. There will be a short Q&A period following the presentation.

The webinar is free, but you must register to attend. Speaker bio page and registration site will be published soon.

ESA-OPSAT Experiment Concluded

We have some exciting news for our members and the general public.

Recently, IPNSIG PWG members participated in an experiment by D3TN GmbH, transmitting data to and from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) OPS-SAT satellite. Main participants: D3TN, Spatiam Corporation and members of IPNSIG Pilot Projects Working Group Alberto Montilla Ochoa (Spatiam Corporation), Juan Fraire (D3TN) and Larissa Suzuki (Google) under the leadership of IPNSIG Board Members Oscar Garcia, Vint Cerf and Alberto Montilla.

The intent was 1) to demonstrate in-space interoperability of D3TN’s µD3TN and JPL/NASA’s ION Bundle Protocol version 7 (BPv7) implementations; and 2) to perform a demonstration of computer vision-enabled identification of objects through a DTN link connecting a cold spot and a hot spot via the DTN-enabled satellite.

The results of the experiment are encouraging – all prepared tests could be completed successfully and even some “stretch goals” could be reached: Overall, interopability of µD3TN and ION was shown, multi-pass forwarding of data worked out, bundle fragmentation and reassembly with several hundred fragments transferred over the space link could be performed successfully and fully-automated (scheduled) testing was possible as well.

Fairly soon, this announcement will be followed up with a more detailed explanation of the experiment, including why we think it is important, provided by Oscar Garcia. In the meantime, you can check out D3TN’s blog entry about the experiment:

Many thanks to the individuals mentioned above and to IPNSIG members Juan Fraire and Marius Feldmann (both of D3TN), for their contributions toward this significant endeavor. This effort involved global collaborators, many of whom are based in Europe (D3TN is a German company, Lara Suzuki is based in London).

Stay tuned!

IPNSIG Newsletter May, 2021

Why do we need an Interplanetary Internet, and what are we doing in order to have it?

The questions of why an Interplanetary Internet should exist, in what ways it could affect our lives, and if and why we should be involved in it, probably arise in most of our minds when we hear about such a thing as an “Interplanetary Internet”.

I offer here my answers to these questions and my own reasons for them, which could be useful in understanding the issues at stake.

Before tackling these questions, however, it is important to know that the Interplanetary Internet is based on DTN (Delay and Disruption Tolerant Networking) principles. The application of DTN principles has resulted in the development of the Bundle Protocol (BP) and other communications protocols such as the Licklider Transmission Protocol. These have been designed to support traffic exchange between network endpoints, even when connectivity is temporarily lost. Data is stored in the network until connectivity is restored.

In contrast to BP, the regular Internet is based on the TCP/IP protocol, which needs stable and persistent connectivity to work well. When connectivity is lost, intermediate routers discard data.

For example, if I want to send an email when there is no connection available on the Internet, I get the message that it cannot reach the destination and I will have to wait until connectivity is restored. Interestingly, for email, retransmissions take place at the application level: the email application itself keeps trying to connect. Although there are some tricks in software that can simulate DTN methods –for example, in cell phones and others– the email seems to go through eventually, but it doesn’t really go through until the end-to-end connection is established.

The beauty of DTN is that this behavior does not need to be coded into each application; this is just part of the system: you send the email with software that is BP-enabled and it will just find, by itself, when and how to travel to its destination and will be stored in the network during intervals of disrupted connectivity.

About my reasons:

First, we all know of some unstable conditions in our Internet connectivity at home or at work. This may not be a problem if I am just watching a movie; but it can become a major issue when we are using the Internet in activities such as those related to health care, sensitive industries, accounting or education. This problem is related to the way the Internet protocols work as described above. Derived from DTN principles, the Interplanetary Internet could be part of the solution to this problem. There might, however, be a challenge to overcome if the application uses high data rates (such as streaming video) since the available memory in the Internet routers could quickly become congested, blocking the flow of traffic for all applications.

Secondly, the current pandemic has demonstrated the need for a communication link to keep life running as normally as possible, and clearly the Internet has been this link, which is used for buying goods, for work and for talking with our family and friends. But sometimes connectivity problems arise, and in those situations, often all we can do is just cross our arms and get stuck and frustrated. Using the DTN principles of the Interplanetary Internet would keep data in the network until it can be sent when connectivity is restored. The same congestion question arises here. Current experiments with the Bundle Protocol on the terrestrial Internet are aimed, in part, at exploring solutions to the congestion problem.

Thirdly, many parts of our world don’t have a stable Internet connection yet, despite all the efforts done by many companies, organizations and volunteers, who work every day for this to happen. In catastrophic or crisis situations, the Internet link that would be mostly useful, gets broken because of the characteristics of the Internet protocols described above. The Interplanetary Internet would be part of the solution to this problem as well.

And fourthly, the current pandemic has also placed all of us in a situation actually quite similar to living on separate planets, in terms of personal and family care, lockdowns, exercising at home, and communicating with our loved ones through a screen. So, I am going to see the good part of it: most of us are now being trained to soon become Astronauts!

In the not-so-distant future, we may be going to visit other planets and moons in our Solar System if you’ve been following the news. We should have an Interplanetary Internet working already, so when that happens, we can connect with our loved ones here on Earth –if we are bold enough to be part of those projects!

It is important to consider that DTN technologies are not a replacement of the Internet. The Interplanetary Internet fills the gap where the Internet fails. It is possible that you cannot watch your favorite movie on BP, as you can do in the regular Internet, but when you are in a bad connectivity situation or in a catastrophic situation, the Interplanetary Internet would find its most useful application to keep your life running.

This having been said, in IPNSIG, we are working to make the Interplanetary Internet operational for normal life on Earth and in Space.

The Pilot Project Working Group (PWG) of IPNSIG, which I am honored to lead, is working on several projects, with this goal in mind. We count on the very hard work of many volunteers, who are making history by bringing the Interplanetary Internet into reality and for it to bear on normal living conditions.

Technologies like DTN today, in the same way the Internet was years ago, are being designed by inventors and creators in laboratories, universities and government agencies. Many times, these technologies are not thought at the outset as having the potential of being used for objectives that can affect and modify our normal ways of living.

It is well-known that from the creation of most inventions, it takes about 25 to 30 years until they affect normal living conditions of most people.

The Internet research project started in 1973, based on earlier work on the Arpanet which began in 1968. Work on the World Wide Web application on the Internet began in 1989 and became accessible to the public in the early 1990s.

Since the inception of DTN design until now, 23 years have passed, so the Interplanetary Internet is growing up. The project began at JPL in March of 1998, involving our colleagues on IPNSIG Board, Vint Cerf and Scott Burleigh, among others at JPL, SPARTA and MITRE. It now involves most of NASA’s laboratories and researchers in the space agencies of Korea (KARI), the European Union (ESA), Japan (JAXA), and the UN (CCSDS) as well as APL and  the Internet Engineering Task Force.

We are working on making the Interplanetary Network available in many ways.

From connecting the Clouds computers, to making it work in challenging conditions, such as:

  • The Arctic
  • Mobile phones
  • Radio communication systems
  • Verifying the stability of the operational networks
  • Making software that permits home users help us in the development of the Interplanetary Internet from their computers.
  • Share information between the several Bundle Protocol versions so as to make them compatible.
  • Connect Earth Internet and Interplanetary Internet with Space on satellites
  • Send videos and voice and music on the Interplanetary Internet.
  • Send medical records running in the Interplanetary Internet.

Some achievements by the PWG to highlight are:

  1. Connecting different Cloud computing services to the Interplanetary Internet with the Bundle Protocol.
  2. Interplanetary Internet applied in the Arctic with mobile apps and radio.
    Following reindeers and protecting the ecosystem.
  3. Medical Records for Space Exploration
    Allowing to connect Earth health care facilities’ medical records with Space systems and make it usable in Earth areas where connectivity is unstable.
  4. Video and Audio on Interplanetary Internet
    To allow visual and audio communications on the Interplanetary Internet.
  5. Space ESA-OPSAT project.
    Allowing the compatibility of different implementations of the Bundle Protocol to interconnect.
  6. Terrestrial Interplanetary Internet Testing Plan.
    Soon you will have the possibility to help us test the Interplanetary Internet technology from your computer.
  7. Interplanetary Internet Manager.
    Permits easier connectivity of Bundle Protocol Nodes on Earth tests…

From IPNSIG, we would like to hear from you and what would be your ideas to be involved in the development of the Interplanetary Internet.

Oscar Garcia

Pilot Projects Working Group Lead

Collaborators: Vinton Cerf, Yosuke Kaneko, Ernesto Yattah, Michael Snell

IPNSIG – InterPlanetary Networking Special Interest Group


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