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The International Space Station’s network bandwidth will be doubled by new upgrades


The internet connection on the International Space Station and other platforms in orbit is getting a serious upgrade that will double its capacity, NASA announced today. But they aren’t sending up a new router or satellite; the improvements are mainly terrestrial.

The ISS and dozens of satellites rely on the Space Network, a more or less unified architecture for sending large amounts of data from orbit to base stations around the world. Its maximum bandwidth is 300 Mbps, which is of course much faster than most ISPs provide, and more than enough for everyone on the ISS to stream videos at once.

Of course, they’re far too busy to do that, and the network has to support all kinds of experiments, devices, and other satellites. About 28 terabytes of high-definition, real-time space data is beamed down every day on average, in addition to astronauts’ internet browsing, video calls, and so on. Everything is sent through a dedicated network of Tracking and Data Relay Satellites, which then pass the signals down to base stations — which pass them on to their Earthly destinations.

This highly technical video explains the whole process in detail:


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