Astronauts have huge responsibilities and tasks to complete. They undergo extensive training and testing before they are able to participate in a spaceflight. They must prove that they are able to handle everything, from high gravity of launch to the weightlessness while orbiting. They also must prove the technical knowledge and are able to handle any sort of stressful situations that might arise during their mission to the moon or space.
Neil Armstrong (1930 – 2012) was the first person ever to walk on the Moon. While stepping on the moon, he made his famous statement “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” He was also involved in a part of a mission where two vehicles successfully docked in space for the first time ever.
So as you can see, being an astronaut is not something anyone can do, and it takes years of studying and extensive physical and mental training. But there’s one question that keeps popping up in forums or in other websites; do astronauts have internet in outer space? How can they communicate with their families on Earth or other stations?
Well, I will answer your questions in this article.
Do astronauts have internet access in outer space?
The answer is Yes; astronauts do have internet access in outer space. However, it’s not the futuristic, state of the art connection type that you might thought of. In fact, the internet connection that’s available on the International Space Station (ISS) is so slow that many astronauts say that it’s worse than the dial-up connection here on Earth.
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) April 26, 2015
Why is the internet so slow in space?
But one may ask, how can a technological state of the art marvel such as the ISS that has helped humanity reach space and learn more about it, has an internet connection that is ridiculously slow?
The reason according to NASA is that it’s the result of the space stations’ proximity to ground based sites. The laptops of the Station Support Computer (SSC) are connected to the ISS’s internal Local Area Network (LAN). This LAN sends and receives data via the Ku-Band antenna that is primarily used for video and payload data.
An application loaded on the SSC allows the astronauts to mirror the desktop of a laptop that is on the ground on Earth. So in vague terms, their laptops aren’t really connected to the internet, but rather they are connected to the computers on Earth which are connected to the internet.
This mirroring of course is done intentionally by NASA to avoid the risk of getting infected with malicious content such as malware, viruses, spyware etc. Imagine getting infected with the WannaCry ransomware on a space station, the cost and the chaos to remove it would be unimaginable.
However, the good news is that the quality of the internet connection is rapidly improving. Thanks to the high speed connections of the Ku-Band microwaves that communicates directly to the ground, astronauts can now enjoy watching live TV or sports with a high speed connection whenever it’s available.
I hope this has answered your question. As you can see, becoming an astronaut is a marvelous task to accomplish and these poor guys go through such efforts and risk their own lives to travel and explore the wonders of space, and yet we are here sitting on our computers wondering if they can access the net or not. Anyhow, God bless what NASA and the rest have done and as technology progresses we might find more interesting things waiting for us to explore in space.
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