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.
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
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.