Father of Internet Talks about Its Future in Space

Posted: April 26, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Michelle Nery

Vint Cerf, the “father of the Internet,” spoke in the Johnson Center Cinema earlier this month as part of the Center for Innovative Technology’s series on the future of the Internet, hosted by the School of Management. Cerf talked about work he is conducting with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on an Interplanetary Internet (IPN) and many of the challenges in developing the IPN, including connectivity, message storing and forwarding, bandwidth, power, and time lags between transmissions.

Vint Cerf explains how the IPN will work.

The “network of Internets” would let space-based machines, including rovers that are now on Mars, as well as spacecraft and eventually astronauts, talk to one another. With each space mission more hardware will be released into the solar system, creating a “backbone” for the IPN that will eventually offer near-continuous communications from space.

In 1973, Cerf cowrote a white paper on TCP, the transmission protocol that spawned modern Internet communication. “I realized it had taken 20 years for the Internet to take off,” says Cerf, “So, I wondered what I should be doing to prepare for our needs in the future. An interplanetary backbone was the answer.”

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