No matter where you are on Earth, your computer just works. As long as you have power (or a battery) and a broadband internet connection, your device is good to go, with access to essentially the computing power of the entire world.

That’s not true in space. Computers on the International Space Station need to connect via a laggy, bandwidth-starved connection that’s beamed from the surface — basically satellite internet.

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If you’ve ever used satellite internet, you know how much it sucks. That means, for computers on the ISS, they don’t have instant access to the kind of cloud computing that we take for granted here on Earth: When you ask Siri or Alexa a question, for example, your speech is digitized, processed in the cloud, and responded to in real time. Try that on the ISS, and you might wait minutes for the answer, if it works at all. …

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