After the first successful tests in 2008 with the new Delay Tolerant Network (DTN) protocol via the Deep Impact probe and in another test scenario via the UK-DMC satellite NASA began using this protocol for communication with an experiment on board the International Space Station (ISS).
The CGBA-5 (Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus) - developed by BioServe Space Technologies - was extended on board the ISS with the software package ION which ensures communication based on the DTN protocol. Besides this extension NASA had to upgrade the ISS command system in order to support this new type of delay and interrupt tolerant communication. The initial idea behind this kind of communication can be seen in the video of the University of Colorado who operate the experiment from their laboratories.
With the next step it is planned to deploy DTN on the ISS over the Japanese and the European modules and to incorporate both ground systems. The initial planning has already started with the implementation envisaged for next year.
The overall objective of all these tests is to provide a network protocol for interplanetary Internet that enables efficient communication between Earth ground stations and scientists on one side and satellites, probes and rovers on distant planets on the other.