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Transmission control protocol (TCP) over satellite IP networks has attracted many researchers' interests for many years because the TCP performance degrades considerably due to the high propagation delay and high bit error rates in satellite links. Many proposals have been produced to enhance TCP performance in satellite IP networks, which are mostly involved of modifying system's architecture or TCP protocol stack. In this paper, we propose a novel on-board link layer relay mechanism. We use both analytical and simulation means to compare the traditional bent-pipe scenario and our on-board link layer relay mechanism. The numerical and simulation results indicate that the TCP performance can be enhanced substantially by employing our on-board link layer relay mechanism.