News Release

Cisco's Space Router Improves Performance and Enhances Operational Efficiency of Dept. of Defense Demonstration

SAN JOSE, Calif. - July 20, 2010 - Cisco announced today
Jul 20, 2010

SAN JOSE, Calif. - July 20, 2010 - Cisco announced today that its Internet Routing in Space (IRIS) technology has achieved another major milestone with the successful completion of in-orbit testing for the United States Department of Defense.  The first-ever deployment of an Internet Protocol (IP) router aboard a commercial satellite, this milestone represents another step in IRIS' viability as a next-generation resource for the military and commercial satellite communications.

The IRIS router supports network services for voice, video and data communications, helping enable government agencies, military units and allied forces to communicate with one another using IP and existing ground equipment. This offers several enhancements over conventional satellite technology and eliminates the need to send data to and from an extra ground station, which can be expensive and time-consuming. IRIS was launched on Intelsat's IS-14 satellite on Nov. 23, 2009.

Demonstration Facts:

  • IRIS is a program to build a radiation-tolerant IP router for satellite and related spacecraft.
  • The IRIS Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (JCTD) is a Department of Defense (DoD) demonstration program managed by a Cisco-led Industry Management Team that included Intelsat General. It is the first commercially-sponsored JCTD and represents a new model for closer collaboration between government and industry. 
  • During the JCTD evaluation, IRIS services were tested by US DoD and global governmental users in real-world scenarios, both on land and at sea.  In each instance, IRIS was able to provide on-demand connectivity and enhance the mission effectiveness of these users. The JCTD evaluation also featured real-time collaboration applications over satellite including virtual private networks and video and file transfers.
  • Proven outcomes of the IRIS JCTD included:
    • High availability: 99.95% router availability during the IRIS JCTD provided the foundation for mission critical operations.
    • Seamless, high performance global IP communications:  Applications including voice over IP and video and file transfers performed equally well regardless of terminal location, demonstrating communications performance equal to traditional, land-based networks.
    • Secure, flexible IP Virtual Private Networks: In support of mission and connectivity requirements that change in real-time, two discreet VPN networks were continuously maintained via the IRIS platform which ensured uninterrupted, highly secure communications.
    • Enhanced, real-time operations collaboration: IRIS provided real-time chat/voice and web portal services that were quickly and easily accessible from any terminal, ensuring fast and effective coordination and communications in response to events and conditions.
  • Following this JCTD completion, the IRIS payload is undergoing extended commercial and government testing for up to 12 months to demonstrate its viability for additional applications for the at-large satellite networking ecosystem.
  • The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) will be offering IRIS services to its Dept. of Defense programs later in the year for additional testing in various scenarios.

About IRIS

  • IRIS offers several enhancements over conventional satellite technology. With IRIS, users will be able to experience a true mobile network — one that helps enable them to connect and communicate how, when and where they want, and that continuously adapts to their needs without a reliance on predefined, fixed infrastructure.
  • The elimination of the double-hop and shorter radio frequency path with IRIS also increases transponder utilization. The software on the IRIS router and onboard modem can be upgraded in orbit, which increases flexibility and the return on investment. IRIS runs Cisco IOSTM (Internetworking Operating System) software. IRIS leverages billions of dollars in Cisco IOS R&D and integrates seamlessly with Cisco ground routers, creating a converged, multiservice space and ground network.
  • IRIS extends the Internet into Space as it can directly exchange routing updates with Cisco ground routers, which increases the flexibility of the satellite network.
  • Cisco is working with satellite manufacturers, system integrators and end users to help enable them to deliver services globally to points outside traditional ground-based networks. 
  • Intelsat, the world's leading provider of satellite services, operates the IS-14 satellite carrying the IRIS hosted payload.

Supporting Quotes:

  • "Cisco and our customers are redefining how satellite communications are delivered and enhancing the capabilities of network communications.  This technology will significantly reduce the time from ground to space for the military and the private sector which will make future satellite applications quicker and easier to deploy ," said Steven Boutelle, CEO of Cisco IRIS, and vice president, Cisco Global Government Solutions Group.
  • "Cisco's IRIS technology has successfully demonstrated how to transform the way the government uses satellite services for military and other communications," said Michael Florio, JCTD operational manager, Space and Defense Battle Lab.  "We are pleased that Cisco and its partners have validated this transformational technology, and we look forward to the next stage of integrating this program into the Department of Defense."
  • "The IRIS demonstration is an important first step toward making Internet routing in space a reality that could ultimately enable satellites  to make more efficient use of bandwidth," said Kay Sears, president of Intelsat General Corp.  "By eliminating the need for routing at a ground-based teleport, we can dramatically increase the efficiency, flexibility and data throughput of satellite links."

Supporting Resources:

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