​Strategic Plan of the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems

expand  Introduction to CCSDS
expand  CCSDS Operating Concept

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​.

expand  CCSDS Target Missions and “CCSDS Conformance”
expand  CCSDS Objective

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.

expand  Rationale
expand  CCSDS Management, External Relations, and Outreach Strategic Goals

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.

expand  CCSDS Standardization Concept
expand  CCSDS High-Level Goals


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.
​CCSDS Area Objectives and Goals​

The objective of the Systems Engineering Area (SEA) is to address system-wide architectural and engineering topics  that are so pervasive that they span over all, or several, other CCSDS areas. This work includes development of specific standards and guidelines, development of system architectures and models, coordination/collaboration with other areas, and otherwise supporting CCSDS and CMC engineering and operational goals.

The SEA system architecture tasks include end-to-end reference architecture, architecture analysis and description methods, and related cross cutting terminology topics.  The SEA security architecture and standards are to be used by other CCSDS areas requiring security guidance and services. The Delta-DOR services touch upon the Cross Support Services (CSS) and Space Link Services (SLS) areas, and Mission Operations and Information Management Services (MOIMS) may be involved in planning for use of these services. The information architecture and registry services also cross cut MOIMS, CSS, Space Internetworking (SIS), and other Services. Extensible Markup Language (XML) standards and guidelines and other special cross-cutting topics that are guided by SEA affect all of the other areas. As system or information architecture standards are developed, SEA will coordinate with the other CCSDS areas and working groups to develop approaches that align with CCSDS goals for interoperability and cross support. The strategic goals of the SEA are listed below.