Did somebody say "Interplanetary Internet?" I'm sold already.
Internet co-creator and Google vice president Vint Cerf is working with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to create an Internet for space, a standardized and upgradable form of communication for astronauts and robotic spacecraft. Right now we use largely use radio equipment that changes with each space mission's needs.
"The project started 10 years ago as an attempt to figure out what kind of technical networking standards would be useful to support interplanetary communication," Cerf told the Technology Review. "The Interplanetary Internet project is primarily about developing a set of communication standards and technical specifications to support rich networking in space environments."
Communication in space presents the team with two unique challenges: the pronounced delays, and the constantly changing positions of sender and receiver (due to rotation, orbit, etc). The hope is that a system can be used to communicate with old technology, as well as be future-proof enough to accommodate new spacecraft. The Interplanetary Internet is scheduled for a test run on the International Space Station, pictured above, in 2009.