Google's Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf discussed the InterPlanetary Internet project in an interview with NetworkWorld. The project uses the new Bundle Protocol rather than the Internet Protocol to overcome the latencies and all the disconnects that occur in space. According to Cerf, the interplanetary protocols will be standardized and made available to all space-faring countries, giving them to option to turn every future space craft into an interplanetary backbone:
There is a spacecraft called EPOXI that used to be called Deep Impact spacecraft (it fired a penetrator into a comet a few years ago in order to expose the interior for spectrographic analysis). The spacecraft is still in orbit around the sun and it just visited the Comet Hartley 2 in November 2010. We've uploaded the InterPlanetary protocols to that spacecraft and we've done testing of them at approximately 80 light seconds.
So during 2011, our initiative is to "space qualify" the interplanetary protocols in order to standardize them and make them available to all the space-faring countries. If they chose to adopt them, then potentially every spacecraft launched from that time on will be interwoven from a communications point of view. But perhaps more important, when the spacecraft have finished their primary missions, if they are still functionally operable -- they have power, computer, communications -- they can become nodes in an interplanetary backbone. So what can happen over time, is that we can literally grow an interplanetary network that can support both man and robotic exploration.