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DARPA Looks to Send the Internet Into Orbit

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There’ve been satellites orbiting Earth for half a century. But getting information to and from them is still a pain. Which is why Pentagon research arm Darpa is looking to finally hook the orbiting spacecraft up with reliable broadband connections. It’s part of a larger movement to extend terrestrial networks into space, and eventually build an “Interplanetary Internet.” In the meantime, we might even get less-than-crappy satellite internet service — if the project works out, of course. 

Darpa recently issued a request for information about supplying “persistent broadband ground connectivity for spacecraft in low-Earth orbit.” The idea would be to give these satellites a near-constant feed of “100 kbps or higher” two-way connectivity, with end-to-end transmission latency of less than a second. Unlike most Darpa projects, which are meant to pay off years or decades in the future, this would be a near-term attempt. The agency wants the system “operational in the 2012 to 2013 time frame.”

Darpa’s deadline for ideas of how to pull it off is Nov. 5. 

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