Space Station Astronauts Get Virtual Desktop Access


Citrix Systems’ virtual desktop gives astronauts on the International Space Station access to desktop applications and websites

Citrix Systems announced on 6 April, “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 … with direct, private access to familiar desktop applications and Websites from any location, including outer space.”

The announcement continued, “Astronauts simply connect their laptop to a power source on board and log in to receive a familiar Windows desktop experience that’s personalised [for] each user and makes it easy to securely access any application, including personal e-mail as well as popular Internet sites like Twitter.”

In fact, “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,” Citrix said. Prior to the collaboration with Citrix, Twitter messages “had to be e-mailed to the ground and shared manually with ground personnel before they could be sent to the astronaut’s family members”.

“We are extremely proud to be partnering with NASA to enable the ultimate virtual desktop solution over high-latency satellite connection,” Tom Simmons, Citrix area vice president for the Public Sector, said in a statement. “We are pleased to play a role in making the distance between the astronauts on the ISS and those of us on the ground just a little shorter. With this project we’ve proven that our desktop virtualization solutions can deliver desktops to anyone, anywhere, any time, even under the most unique and challenging conditions.”

Citrix said, “With XenDesktop, virtual desktops are managed and secured centrally in the data centre located on the ground, and can be accessed by the ISS crew using laptops located on the space station. XenDesktop [and] Branch Repeater help optimise the delivery of virtual desktops and applications to the ISS crew, dramatically reducing bandwidth requirements and optimizing performance for high-latency satellite communications.”

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