Cisco and HP race to put routers into space

While Cisco plans a satellite to bolster military communications, HP will also be launching a router later this year bound for the International Space Station

Cisco is to launch a satellite backed by the US military in two years' time.

The launch, announced on Friday, will follow an earlier civilian effort: the Cleo (Cisco in Low Earth Orbit) satellite, which was launched in 2002. Cisco aims to enable an internet in space, allowing data communications to flow easily between satellites without having to go via a ground station. The three-year Iris (Internet Router in Space) project, which US troops will use, will enable voice, video and data communications using standards developed for the internet.

"Iris is to the future of satellite-based communications what Arpanet was to the creation of the internet in the 1960s," Don Brown, of Intelsat General, one of the companies that will build the platform, told the BBC.

But HP is likely to beat Cisco to launch its router into space. HP has been testing a router, a ProCurve 2524, for some time, to check its suitability for use in space, and the product should launch later this year bound for the International Space Station.

HP has been carrying out extensive pressure tests, to see if it can stand up to the rigours of space travel, and checking the resistance of the ProCurve equipment to various electrical waves. For this reason, the router has to sit in a lightweight, hardened steel shell.

HP ProCurve 2524

The ProCurve 2524 is expected to launch later this year bound for the International Space Station


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