ISS Now Has Live Access to the Internet

by Nancy Atkinson on January 22, 2010

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The International Space Station orbiting Earth. Credit: NASA


Talk about a truly ‘world-wide’ web! As the astronauts aboard the International Space Station orbit Earth at 28,000 kph (17,500 mph) they now have the ultimate wireless connection and direct, live access to the internet. The station received a special software upgrade this week, called Crew Support LAN, which gives astronauts the ability to browse and use the Web. Previously, emails, news, and Twitter messages were sent to and from the ISS in uplink and downlink packages, so for example, Twitter (which NASA has embraced wholeheartedly) messages from the astronauts were downlinked to mission control in Houston, and someone there posted them on the astronauts’ Twitter accounts. Now, it’s live. Expedition 22 Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer made first use of the new system today when he posted the first unassisted update to his Twitter account, @Astro_TJ, from the space station:

“Hello Twitterverse! We r now LIVE tweeting from the International Space Station — the 1st live tweet from Space! :) More soon, send your ?s”

Astronauts will be subject to the same computer use guidelines as government employees on Earth. In addition to this new capability, the crew will continue to have official e-mail, Internet Protocol telephone and limited videoconferencing capabilities.

This personal Web access takes advantage of existing communication links to and from the station and gives astronauts the ability to browse and use the Web. The system will provide astronauts with direct private communications to enhance their quality of life during long-duration missions by helping to ease the isolation associated with life in a closed environment.

During periods when the station is actively communicating with the ground using high-speed Ku-band communications, the crew will have remote access to the Internet via a ground computer. The crew will view the desktop of the ground computer using an onboard laptop and interact remotely with their keyboard touchpad.

To follow Twitter updates from all the astronauts, there is one centralized Twitter account for all: NASA_Astronauts

You can also follow Universe Today and me (Nancy Atkinson) on Twitter.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

SteveZodiac January 22, 2010 at 8:51 AM

Watch out for Chinese cyber-attacks

brundall January 22, 2010 at 9:11 AM

Great -you can now watch earth porn from anywhere in the universe.

Mr Youngie January 22, 2010 at 9:29 AM

What kind of speeds do they have access up there i wonder.

Sili January 22, 2010 at 10:27 AM

As if their scientific output wasn’t low enough already!

;-)

msewing January 22, 2010 at 1:17 PM

Security is (or should be) a big issue with the ISS being on the Internet. Hopefully, it is just an astronaut PC not the whole ISS network, and hopefully they have their antivirus software up to date and their firewall configured right. Are they running Windows XP? Internet Explorer? What is the worst case — can someone theoretically crash the ISS? I don’t have a great feeling about this.

Lawrence B. Crowell January 24, 2010 at 8:14 AM

Earth porn in space. What a great way to raise the attention ETs out there with lessons in human sexual behavior.

msewing does raise a point. Computers have a way of being interlinked in many ways, and if the mainframe on the ISS is on the web there is vulnerability. Then again, I think the ISS is an orbiting white elephant, and this might be a quick way to put this nonsense to a close.

LC

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