No internet access on the space station?

I realize they have precious little time for fun up there but they seem to have time for movies and television shows. I’m just curious, I read that from MSNBC.com

Is there a reason for this?

wicked lag time.

I wondered about this myself, and came to the conclusion that NASA might be worried about Internet-transmitted malware.

I would imagine bandwidth issues. I would guess that a lot of data gets transmitted between the surface and the station. Leaving enough bandwidth for surfing would be expensive. If they were on the net, great blogging though…

I would also guess that at the rate they’re circling the earth (once every 90 minutes), it would be difficult to sustain a connection to one particular transmitter for long.

Ok, that makes sense to me.

That’s hardly a reason to not have internet access. Maybe not to have a Apple or Microsoft OS on a computer that is also running important stuff, but it wouldn’t kill them to throw up a limited browser on one of their computers that could at least do webmail. Believe it or not you can access the internet in almost complete security without too much effort.

My guess would be the transmitter issue as well.

I have trouble believing this. I mean, there is SO much data sent down about every little thing — medical telemetry about each astronaut, readings on every device in operation, oxygen levels, CO2 levels, yada yada yada — I’d think that web surfing would be almost negligible in comparision, and a small price to pay for the big anti-boredom factor, not to mention the value of private emails to family and friends.

There’s gotta be a better answer. I hope someone can find it.

My guess would be its a security issue. The SS is a quasi-military operation and they get to do fun things like launch spy sat’s and eject the toilet waste over our enemy to demoralize them. Having a open channel aboard would not be in the best interest of the program. As for the technical issues, NASA already has a continuous data stream with them, even during reentry now, heck they even have a continuous data stream with the marsian rovers, there should be no technical reason that they couldn’t provide a internet gateway in that.

Who needs internet when you have ham radio?

NASA doesn’t want them to try to make money on the side uploading zero g gay astronaut porn. It is the once fetish lacking in content thus far.

WTF? How would the ISS launch a spy sat? First of all, it’s the International Space Station and there’s at least one non-US astronaut onboard the thing 90% of the time. Second, since the Challenger disaster, the shuttle has been prohibited from carrying satellites, as the fuel could pose a safety hazard. Nor does NASA have a continuous data stream during reentry, there’s a few moments during reentry where the amount of ionized gases surrounding the shuttle are such that they can’t get a signal through. Nor do we have continuous communication with the Martian rovers. There’s only about a 90 minute window which we can communicate with them.

NASA has been working on internet communication between the Earth and orbiting bodies. I know that there’s been some chat sessions on the internet between astronauts on the ISS and school children, which doesn’t mean, of course, that they do have internet access. I’ve tried poking around on NASA’s site, but they’ve so FUBAR’d the design that it’s damned impossible to find anything.

You just don’t know where to look.

From what I understand about space station life, there isn’t a whole lot of spare time to be bored.

Nitpick: plenty of satellites are still launched by the shuttle, just not by the Centaur upper stage anymore.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_space_shuttle_missions#List_of_shuttle_flights

I didn’t know this. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of some shuttle mission carrying a satellite after the Challenger. As it is confirmed by drewbert’s post

This used to be a issue, but I’ve heard that the shuttle does get a signal through to a satellites which is relayed back down to the ground (in other words the shuttle can’t send a signal down through the ionized gases but can send them up through the ‘hole’ in the gases the shuttle creates.

Also even if what you claim is true, it’s not like the astronauts would be checking email then anyway.

I know the 90 minute window is not true either. The rovers have 2 main channels and data streams, one goes direct from the rovers to earth and is only limited by if the rover has a direct line of site with earth. I believe this data stream is 9.6 kb/s IIRC. But it has a second one, one that uplinks to orbiting probes at 128 kb/s and that probe relays the stream to earth. Ok not the broadband we earthlings are used to, but high tech stuff for mars.

The script for a forgettable summer movie just sprang fully formed into my brain.

Just remember, I want royalties…

They’re totally encased in the field. Up, down, it don’t matter. Nothing’s going in or out.

The 90 minutes is related to how long the orbits of the relay stations orbiting Mars line up with Earth. At present, we don’t have enough stuff up there t0 be able to get signals 24/7. Also, we’re limited in how long the ground stations can listen to the Mars gear. Apparently, we’re using the same gear on Earth to recieve signals from space probes. Some of the Messenger data reception had to be delayed because the Ulysses probe had a malfunction and all radio traffic had to be used to correct that problem.

I recall hearing something about the ISS crew checking email, but that could be just my memory playing tricks on me, or it could mean that they’ve simply got a “burst” connection which squirts emails up to them periodically, with no opportunity for them to surf the web.

Given that a stable internet connection of decent speed would be technically challenging and almost certainly quite expensive, there would have to be something more compelling than possible astronaut boredom to justify it.

It’s hard to say what that would be. The comms that are available seem to serve rather well.