The Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) was formed in 1982 by letter of agreement, signed by responsible officials of the participating national and international space agencies

Since its formation, the CCSDS has developed and published many documents (“Recommendations for Space Data System Standards”, herein usually referred to as “CCSDS Standards”), the majority of which have become full international standards. Over 100 CCSDS documents are current​ly active and applicable in widespread use across the international space community. Note that CCSDS Recommended Standards may be adopted as the basis for international agreements, or they may be incorporated into local standards that form the controlling documentation for such agreements.

In 1990, Technical Committee 20 (TC 20) of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) formed Subcommittee 13 (SC 13), Space Data and Information Transfer Systems. Recognizing CCSDS as a leading international authority in developing standards for space-related information technologies, ISO agreed that CCSDS has the primary responsibility for technical development of standards that are approved by ISO TC 20/SC 13.

The purposes of the CCSDS are contained in the Charter (above). Broadly, they are to provide an international forum in which the CCSDS agencies can discuss common space data communications and service-based needs and arrive through consensus at standard solutions to those needs, thereby increasing efficiency and interoperability among agencies, and decreasing costs

This Strategic Plan has been approved by the CCSDS Member Agencies. It is intended that the Strategic Plan should be updated whenever necessitated by changing events (or at least every 5 years) to redefine the organization’s current objectives, domains for standardization, and strategic goals. The Strategic Plan also serves to reaffirm the cooperative agreements entered into by the founding and continuing members of the CCSDS

CCSDS’ online Collaborative Work Environment (CWE) supports this Strategic Plan by providing organizational details, charters of each working group, project definitions and resource matrices, online polling, and a host of other collaborative tools designed to assist in document development and lead to better understanding of the CCSDS. The CWE is maintained by the CCSDS Engineering Steering Group, and is updated in real time as charters are approved.


The CCSDS executes its business in accordance with document CCSDS A02.1-Y-4 Organization and Processes for the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems. Within the terms of that document, the CCSDS provides the environment and infrastructure whereby:

1. The international space community—the member and observer space agencies and their commercial partners—can openly discuss common problems associated with implementing space mission information and communication systems so as to identify where standard solutions will be beneficial.
2. Technical experts within the community can develop the necessary standards and practices. The resources needed for these activities are provided primarily by the participating agencies at levels commensurate with their individual requirements. Where mutual interests exist, the CCSDS will develop technical alliances with other organizations as appropriate.
3. The community can formally review and comment on those standards and practices as their development progresses.
4. The CCSDS Member Agencies can approve the publication of standards and practices when their review is complete and consensus is achieved.
5. The approved standards and practices are made available for adoption and use across the community.

​In the process of developing CCSDS standards, the community will, as a first priority, adopt existing standards and approaches rather than developing something new. If an existing standard or innovative technical approach cannot be adopted as is, the second priority is to adapt it to fit the needs of the space community. As a final resort, when nothing exists that can be adopted or adapted, the community will develop new technical approaches to meet the needs of the spaceflight community. This is the basis of the CCSDS mantra to “adopt/adapt/develop”, in that order.

Additionally, in providing these functions, the CCSDS is committed to:

  • allowing the CCSDS participating agencies (at their individual discretion) to open the standardization process, on a voluntary basis, to all interested parties across their government, private sector, and academic space communities;
  • using experimentation, prototyping, and demonstration as integral components of standards development;
  • encouraging partnerships between space agencies and the commercial sector to produce commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and software so that the standards can be used to build space mission communication and information systems that are scalable, quick to integrate, low in cost, and interoperable among different users.

While the primary objective of CCSDS will always be to encourage cooperative spaceflight missions through interoperability of data and communications systems, there is a secondary objective of encouraging commercial development of standardized components to improve efficiency and reduce cost. As a result, the scope of CCSDS occasionally may include “intra-operability” between components of an agency’s spaceflight systems, as well as interoperability between agencies. This could be to support (in rare cases) application migration between agencies (by development of application programming interfaces) as well as commercialization of plug-in components with standardized system interfaces. While these are allowable CCSDS objectives for some projects, they will always be secondary in priority to the goal of interoperability to enable multinational spaceflight missions​.


Standardization is widely recognized as a vehicle to stimulate the development of world markets. To help develop space as an international marketplace, CCSDS standards aim to support the data information, communications, and service needs of a wide, but not totally inclusive, set of space missions. Primary CCSDS target missions include civilian spacecraft and landed vehicles operating in Earth orbit, within the Earth-Moon system, in deep space, and on and around other Solar System bodies.

While no kind of mission—civil, military, commercial, robotic, piloted—is specifically excluded from the interests of CCSDS, it is recognized that some spacecraft provide specialized data-handling services that are well supported by their own user communities or by other standardization bodies. For example, commercial voice, data, and video broadcasting satellites may use their own transponder data communications protocols, and commercial Earth-observing satellites may use their own private data distribution protocols, yet they both may use CCSDS standards to support other parts of their mission infrastructure—such as Tracking, Telemetry, and Command (TTC) functions. As a natural consequence, CCSDS is constantly motivated to consider the establishment of formal and technical liaisons with other organizations as a means for expanding space data systems standardization on a worldwide basis.

CCSDS therefore aims to perform the necessary outreach to seek the widest possible set of target missions. There are multiple interfaces at which “CCSDS conformance” may be achieved by following defined CCSDS interface standards, protocol/information proformas and profile requirements lists. However, conformance with a single particular standard will not necessarily result in interoperability unless both parties to the data exchange also agree to use the same “stack” of underlying standards.


The objective of the CCSDS is to harmonize and lead the worldwide standardization of space mission information and communication systems, thus promoting international cooperation and enabling these space systems to be effectively integrated with their terrestrial data communications and information systems counterparts.


​CCSDS provides the means whereby space agencies can reach voluntary consensus on standardized solutions to common problems associated with the design of compatible space mission information and communication systems. The fruits of that consensus are made available across the space community in the form of new international standards, along with hardware and software (e.g., a future CCSDS Open Source Library) that facilitate their adoption. Standardization (through standardized products and COTS products) enhances the international exploration and exploitation of space by increasing the use and value of the information gathered, while simultaneously realizing significant savings in cost and development time for all participants.​


In order to maximize the benefits of standardization, CCSDS has as an objective to disseminate the results of its standardization activities and promote their worldwide adoption. This includes promotion of CCSDS standards within the member organizations’ programs and outreach towards other space communities. Tracking and reporting the infusion of the standards in space programs within member organizations also serves this purpose

CCSDS shall promote: 

  • the use of CCSDS standards within projects and technical support sections of the CCSDS Member Agencies; 
  • that CCSDS standards are adopted by—either in whole or in part—the missions of a large majority of all civil, military, and commercial spacecraft that are launched.
​CCSDS facilitates adoption of its standards and support to its users by providing:

  • online capabilities that give an expanded capability to support CCSDS users
  • software implementations and tutorial information;
  • information on benefits which would be gained as a result of adopting each CCSDS standard.

In order to increase the productivity and impact of the standardization activities, it is important to increase the number of agencies that actively contribute to the development of new standards in CCSDS by leveraging the agencies’ resources and expertise.

CCSDS will continue its strong relationships and ties with ISO to further the stature and pre-eminence of CCSDS standards in the international community

CCSDS has achieved greater international visibility by responding to requests for support to other governing and coordinating bodies on the topic of spaceflight. An example of this is the report that CCSDS provided to the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space; the Working Group on the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities. CCSDS shall continue to provide responses to such requests, and will further seek out additional opportunities for similar outreach

In order to extend the CCSDS body of standards with sufficient lead time to keep pace with the new requirements of space missions to be flown in the coming decades, CCSDS shall conduct continuing outreach that will build liaisons with CCSDS stakeholders (space missions and space mission support organizations) as well as with other standardization organizations and with other space communities. The new requirements include:

  • constellations of spacecraft in the vicinity of the Earth and the Moon;
  • constellations of spacecraft in deep space;
  • orbiting and in-situ landed vehicles deployed around and on other Solar System bodies;
  • commercial and military missions;
  • space- and ground-based cross support among an increasingly interdependent set of international users.


CCSDS exists to develop the necessary agreements that allow standard communications data-handling services to be exposed at the major interfaces between participating organizations. When such a standard service is offered by one organization and is used by another, an instance of CCSDS cross support has occurred. When information flows automatically across the interface so created in accordance with standard data exchanges or protocols under well-defined interoperable profiles, an instance of CCSDS interoperability has occurred.

It is a CCSDS core requirement that recommended standards and practices must be developed to facilitate interoperability and cross support.

In order to satisfy this requirement, CCSDS establishes technical areas for standardization. Although they are intended to be relatively stable entities, areas may be added or deleted in response to a changing space mission environment.

As shown in Figure 1, six technical areas form the current working structure of CCSDS. Each area contains narrowly chartered working groups (not shown here) that concentrate on the production of specific recommended standards and practices within the theme of that parent area.

Org Chart

Figure 1: CCSDS Technical Areas of Standardization
As shown in Figure 1, six technical Areas form the current working structure of CCSDS. Each Area contains narrowly chartered Working Groups that concentrate on the production of specific recommended standards and practices within the theme of that parent Area.
  1. The Spacecraft Onboard Interfaces Services area shall define the onboard data-handling interface between payloads or subsystems and their carrier spacecraft.
  2. The Space Link Services area shall define the data-handling interfaces between multiple free-flying spacecraft/landed elements, and between free-flying spacecraft/landed elements and their ground support networks.
  3. The Cross Support Services area shall define the data-handling interfaces between ground support networks and ground user facilities.
  4. The Mission Operations and Information Management Services area shall define the mission control application protocols and services that traverse the logical (end-to-end) interface between user facilities and payloads/subsystems in space, and between multiple ground-user facilities.
  5. The Space Internetworking Services area supports the Mission Operations and Information Management Services area and shall define the end-to-end data communications protocols and services that traverse interface between user facilities and payloads or subsystems in space.
  6. The Systems Engineering Area supports each of the other five areas and shall define the common or cross-cutting conventions and interfaces that support the end-to-end architecture.



The overall goal as expressed in the CCSDS Charter​ is the enabling of interoperable ​​spaceflight missions by producing standards in the communications and data systems area. The strategic goals that follow are intended to be unique approaches to better enable that charter

Overall Strategic Goals

The CCSDS Mission Statement is “Advancing technology, with international agreement to use that technology”

In order to enable the next generation of spaceflight missions, CCSDS is aiming at technology evolution and innovation through the process of developing, validating, maintaining and promoting a body of unique space data systems standards, focusing on interoperability of space systems and cross-support between space organizations.

CCSDS shall keep pace with the new requirements of space missions to be flown in the coming decades for scientific, exploration, commercial, and defense purposes, as reflected in relevant roadmaps of participating agencies and inputs and recommendations of other organizations and bodies, like the Interagency Operations Advisory Group (IOAG), International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) and others.

CCSDS shall keep pace with technology advancements in the industry. While we respect and learn from requirements of current missions, future missions are the primary target of CCSDS standards. CCSDS strives to develop new interoperability capabilities, which will enable a new set of missions, some of which are not even yet envisioned.

​Technical Strategic Goals

The strategic technical objectives and goals below are not intended be all-inclusive of ongoing CCSDS work, nor are they grouped by organization or teams within CCSDS; rather, they are intended to be the more strategic and high-level initiatives guiding the current and future direction of the CCSDS as a whole. Grouping of the goals naturally reflects the direction of the CCSDS organization and the common-sense breakdown of technical disciplines​


To define innovative, secure, widely applicable communication standards and related architectures that facilitate interoperability and cross support and meet the challenges and anticipated needs of the future projects, including:

  • the use of higher frequency bands (radio frequency and optical);
  • the achievement of higher data rates and volumes with simultaneously greater spectral efficiency through more capable protocols, modulation, coding, and compression techniques;
  • the achievement of higher accuracy distance and velocity measurements of near-Earth and deep-space missions;
  • the use of secure communication protocols and links to protect associated systems and information flows


To define a complete suite of interoperable, cross support planning, data delivery, and control service interfaces, implementing an efficient management of the cross support services, providing end-to-end solutions, and meeting mission challenges, including: 
  • integrated mission planning for combined interagency operations taking into account resource needs;
  • simplification and improved efficiency of cross support service request, delivery, and governance; 
  • call-up of international cross support during spacecraft emergencies;
  • a complete suite of cross support interfaces supporting forward- and return-data transfers, radiometric data, monitor data, and service control;
  • cross support file transfer operations such as: radiometric, Delta Differential One-way Ranging (Delta-DOR), off-line data, and space file transfer.

To define the full suite of mission operations standard functions and services to enable ground and onboard interoperability at the Application Layer level in support of complex joint collaborative missions and of the standardization of the corresponding ground data systems, in order to meet the needs of future projects, including:
  • implementation of multi-mission spacecraft and instrument mission operations services; 
  • exchange of mission plans between cooperating agencies;
  • conjunction assessment, navigation, tracking, and trajectory prediction; 
  • interoperability of robotic systems for cross-agency support

To define an integrated set of space internetworking standard services in support of end-to-end communications between applications for the full scope of future joint collaborative missions, covering the entire Solar System, and meeting future project needs, including:
  • jointly conducted human and robotic operations;
  • management of space-to-space and direct-to-Earth links as part of the network;
  • sensor web and other innovative technologies for low Earth orbit (LEO) operations;
  • application to the space domain of well-established internetworking technologies;
  • fully automated routing across networks end-to-end;
  • end-to-end file and message transfer operations.

To define reference onboard communications architectures and services supporting efficient data-handling applications and future system evolution, including:
  • standardized avionics architectures;
  • advanced technologies, such as wireless communications and software-defined radios;
  • innovative approaches such as plug-and-play approaches and electronic data sheets;
  • onboard autonomy capabilities.

To define cross-cutting functions and end-to-end system architectures, in support of interoperability and cross support, overarching and underpinning the above goals, and facilitating addressing global challenges, including:
  • cyber security;
  • reference system architectures; 
  • information models and architectures;
  • systems-of-systems interoperability;
  • CCSDS support services and capabilities.