La commessa è stata assegnata a Intelsat General e a Cisco e prevede la messa in orbita geostazionaria di un vero e proprio satellite-router. In altre parole sarà in grado di funzionare senza gateway terrestri, con un grande aumento di flessibilità. Primo nodo di una futura Internet nello spazio, il satellite verrà utilizzato dai militari per il trasporto IP di dati voce e video e poi verrà ceduto ai realizzatori che potranno gestirlo commercialmente. Il satellite opererà in banda C e Ku. Quello che segue riprende in parte il testo di TelecomWeb mentre il comunicato stampa ufficiale si trova qui.
Intelsat Ltd. subsidiary Intelsat General Corp. won the nod to manage a U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) project to test, for the first time, Internet routing in space (IRIS).Assuming the project works, the hardware will be converted to commercial use – becoming the world’s first Internet node in space. “IRIS is to the future of satellite-based communications what ARPANET was to the creation of the Internet in the 1960s,” gushes Don Brown, vice president/Hosted Payload Programs for Intelsat General. “The IRIS architecture allows direct IP routing over satellite, eliminating the need for routing via a ground-based teleport, thereby dramatically increasing the efficiency and flexibility of the satellite communications link.”Intelsat has put together a team that includes SEAKR Engineering, Cisco and Concerto Advisors. SEAKR, based in Denver, is building the space-hardened router for the project, while Cisco is providing the commercial IP networking software. Concerto Advisors, of Iowa City, Iowa, is putting together an equity-financing consortium to fund the design, construction an operation of the equipment. The IRIS hardware will fly on the IS-14 satellite built by Space Systems/Loral, with a target launch date in the first quarter of 2009.The unique part of the project is that while IRIS is a DoD project, after it is over, the Concerto group will own the router in space. Intelsat will operate the first Internet- in-space service, with plans to service both government and commercial customers. IS-14, which is set for geostationary orbit at 45 degrees west, will have a footprint that covers Europe, Africa and the Americas.IRIS – supporting data, voice and video – will interconnect one C-band and two Ku-band coverage areas. The IRIS architecture and design will support flexible Layer 3 IP packet routing, or multicast distribution, that can be reconfigured on demand. With the onboard processor routing the uplinks and downlinks, the IRIS payload should enhance satellite performance and reduce signal degradation from atmospheric conditions.