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Tuesday, 23 May, 2000, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Earth orbit gets wired
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A converted nuclear missile launches UoSAT 12
By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse

Satellites are to get their own internet addresses as the WWW extends its reach into space.

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), based in Guildford, England, is teaming up with Nasa to show that standard internet protocols can be used to communicate with spacecraft.

The first satellite to have its own URL's was SST's UoSAT 12. Engineers at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center successfully communicated with it by logging onto its website.

UoSat 12, an experimental micro-satellite that observes the Earth and demonstrates advanced communication and position finding technologies, was launched last year by a Russian rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakstan.

The successful link-up means all future SSTL satellites will have their own URL's.

Space engineers are keen on extending the internet to space to control spacecraft because of the considerable cost and time savings that can be made.

A number space agencies are now interested in using the internet this way, though the question of a new domain extension for Earth orbit or beyond has not yet been raised.

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