Citrix Systems announced yesterday that NASA has incorporated Citrix XenDesktop with high-definition HDX technology into the recently launched Crew Support LAN, which provides astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) with direct, private access to familiar desktop applications and websites from any location, including outer space.
The new network incorporates virtual desktops powered by XenDesktop and WAN optimization technology from Citrix Branch Repeater to ensure simpler communications that are both reliable and secure. The project is part of a broader effort to enhance the quality of life of astronauts during long-duration missions by helping to ease the isolation associated with life in a closed environment.
The system was first used last month by Expedition 22 Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer when he posted the first unassisted update to his Twitter account from space. Previously, limited bandwidth and significant latency meant that Tweets had to be emailed to the ground and shared manually with ground personnel before they could be sent to the astronaut’s family members. The new desktop virtualization solution gives the ISS crew unprecedented, direct access to vital personal communications tools such as Twitter and the ability to browse the web, while mitigating the existing latency of network communication from space.
With XenDesktop, virtual desktops are managed and secured centrally in the datacenter located on the ground, and can be accessed by the ISS crew using laptops located on the space station. XenDesktop with Branch Repeater help optimize the delivery of virtual desktops and applications to the ISS crew, dramatically reducing bandwidth requirements and optimizing performance for high latency satellite communications. Astronauts simply connect their laptop to a power source on board and log in to receive a familiar Windows desktop experience that’s personalized to each user, and makes it easy to securely access any application, including personal email as well as popular internet sites like Twitter.