The U.S. Department of Defense is planning to demonstrate ‘Internet Routing In Space’ (IRIS) under a Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) program recently awarded to Intelsat. According to Bill Shernit, President and CEO of Intelsat General, “IRIS extends the Internet into space, integrating satellite systems and the ground infrastructure for warfighters, first responders and others who need seamless and instant communications,” The IRIS payload will support network services for voice, video and data communications, enabling military units or allied forces to communicate with one another using Internet protocol and existing ground equipment.
The IRIS payload will support network services for voice, video and data communications, enabling military units or allied forces to communicate with one another using Internet protocol and existing ground equipment.
IRIS will serve as a computer processor in space, merging communications being received on various frequency bands and transmitting them to multiple users based on data instructions embedded in the uplink. The IRIS payload will interconnect one C-band and two Ku-band coverage areas. Its architecture and design allow for flexible IP packet (layer 3) routing or multicast distribution that can be reconfigured on demand. With the on-board processor routing the up and down communications links, the IRIS payload is expected to enhance satellite performance and reduce signal degradation from atmospheric conditions. “The IRIS architecture allows direct IP routing over satellite, eliminating the need for routing via a ground-based teleport, thereby dramatically increasing the efficiency and flexibility of the satellite communications link,” said Don Brown, Vice President of Hosted Payload Programs for Intelsat General. “IRIS is to the future of satellite-based communications what ARPANET was to the creation of the Internet in the 1960s.”
Space Systems/Loral IS-14, the satellite selected to carry the IRIS payload is set for launch in the first quarter of 2009. It will be placed in geostationary orbit at 45 degrees West longitude with coverage of Europe, Africa and the Americas. The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) will have overall responsibility for coordinating use of the IRIS technology among the government user community and for developing means of leveraging the IRIS capability once the satellite is in space. Awarding a JCTD for the IRIS program had the strong support of the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), which sees the program as a path to more efficient communications between warfighters around the globe. USSTRATCOM is a joint military command whose responsibilities include space operations, missile defense, intelligence, reconnaissance and global command and control.
The demonstration will be conducted by Intelsat General Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intelsat Ltd. Other team members participating in the tests are Cisco providing the IP routing technology and space hardened router producer SEAKR Engineering Inc. Following the demonstration, the equipment produced for the JCTD will be converted to commercial use.