HP ProCurve boasts first commercial Ethernet switch in space

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HP ProCurve boasts first commercial Ethernet switch in space

The recently-docked Columbus section of the International Space Station is claimed to host the first commercial Ethernet switch in space.

Launched aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis in February, Columbus is a space laboratory where zero-gravity scientific experiments will be carried out.

An HP ProCurve 2524 switch is used with a data management system to facilitate communications between Columbus and the International Space Station.

“It is an amazing challenge to operate a network in space,” said Gurkirat Singh, Country Manager South Pacific for HP ProCurve.

"The equipment needs to be extremely reliable, simple to maintain, able to handle physical shocks and vibration, and be able to function after being exposed to certain types of radiation," he told iTnews.

The network was built as part of the construction of Columbus on Earth. It was fully installed before launch, with all components able to be managed remotely.

The network is expected to serve Columbus for ten years, during which any physical maintenance will be handled by astronauts crewing the International Space Station.

Network switches from Avaya, Cisco, D-Link, Netgear, 3Com, and ProCurve were tested by EADS, which is the German organisation that designed Columbus’s architecture.

According to Rolf Schmidhuber, Columbus data management system engineer at EADS, the ProCurve 2524 derives its advantages from using fewer components than its competitors.

“Inside the ProCurve Switch 2524, a central switch fabric handles the majority of tasks while switches from other manufacturers tend to distribute across a number of chips,” he said in a media release.

“By using significantly fewer chips on the circuit board, this proved much more advantageous to us, as the fewer components present, the lower the susceptibility to radiation and mechanical duress during the launch into space.”

“This was a key reason why ProCurve beat the competition,” he said.
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