CCSDS develops communications and mission operation standards that support inter- and intra-agency operations and cross support. CCSDS standards include elements of flight and ground systems that are developed and operated by different agencies and organizations.
International standards for wireless space networking do not yet exist. The CCSDS has subcategorized wireless short-range and surface proximity networks as:
1) Intra-vehicle: Internal vehicle (or habitat) extremely short-range wireless links and networking (up to 10 m range).
2) Inter-vehicle: Vehicle-to-vehicle short-range and medium range (up to 20 km).
3) Planetary surface-to-surface wireless links and networking (up to several kilometers).
a. EVA (Extra-Vehicular Activity) local links with planetary rover vehicles (RV) and/or habitats;
b. RV-habitat links when RV is close to habitat;
c. Links between independent local systems (e.g., habitats, robots, external assets).
4) Orbiter relay-to-planetary surface links and networking.
The recommendations of this Working Group will enable member agencies to select the best option(s) available for space communications and internetworking, based upon industry-standard evaluation metrics such as power expenditure, data rates, noise immunity, and range of communication as well as on space systems metrics such as reliability, availability, maintenance and safety.
Wireless communications is an enabling technology for both manned and unmanned spacecraft – it enables untethered mobility of crew and instruments, increasing safety and science return, and decreasing mass by eliminating expensive cabling. Wireless networks automatically enable communication between compliant devices that dynamically come into and out of range of the network. Wireless communication is fundamental for communicating outside of a spacecraft (e.g., inter-spacecraft communications, planetary surface communications), and provides for mobile crew monitoring within a habitat or spacecraft (intra-vehicle communications). Added value for using wireless communications is also identified for the ground.
From an engineering standpoint, mission managers, along with engineers and developers, are faced with a plethora of wireless communication choices – both standards-based and proprietary. The provision of a CCSDS standard reference that summarizes wireless protocol capabilities, constraints, and typical deployment scenarios, will decrease the up-front engineering evaluation effort significantly, and provide a standards-based common reference to improve interoperability between disparate systems that need to cooperate in wireless data transmission and networking.