International Space Station Members Release Draft Deep Space Exploration Standards

Artist illustration of NASA NASA's Deep Space Gateway concept. Credit: NASA.

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) along with NASA, the Russian state space agency Roscosmos, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have released the first public draft of of seven interoperability standards for the future human exploration of deep space.

New Deep Space Exploration Standards

The International Deep Space Interoperability Standards are designed to enable organizations and industry to develop systems that would be compatible with any spacecraft developed, irregardless of the spacecraft developer. The first possible use case would be a lunar orbital gateway, sometimes referred to as the Deep Space Gateway.

By releasing this preliminary draft, the International Space Stations (ISS) partners are looking to get feedback from those who have not yet been consulted before another update is released as early as July.

This draft, known as Draft C, and which includes feedback from industry, is actually the third update since the original document was put forward internally in April of 2017.  The two previous updates were;

  • Draft A – Major update for September and Checkpoint Review (September 2017)
  • Draft B – Update based on NASA internal feedback (October 2017)

These standards would eventually allow any organization a way to collaborate in an future international effort for what whatever deep space target without having to reinvent the wheel, thus saving time and money.

There are seven drafts standards. They are;

  1. International Avionics System Interoperability Standards (IASIS) – The Avionics standard provides basic common design parameters that allow developers to independently design compatible Avionics systems. Specifies data link protocols and physical layer options that may be used to architect the interfaces between both spacecraft subsystems and vehicles themselves. (Download PDF)
  2. International Communication System Interoperability Standards (ICSIS) – The Communications standard defines the functional, interface and performance standards necessary to support interoperable and compatible communications between spacecraft, ground infrastructure, other space and surface vehicles. (Download PDF)
  3. International Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Interoperability Standards (IECLSSIS) –  The ECLSS standard provides basic common design performance parameters to allow developers to independently develop compatible life support systems.  (Download PDF)
  4. International Space Power System Interoperability Standards (ISPSIS) – The Power standard defines bus voltage, power quality, and grounding approaches to ensure commonality, reliability, interchangeability, and interoperability for electrical load applications between space application power systems. (Download PDF)
  5. International Rendezvous System Interoperability Standards (IRSIS) – The Rendezvous standard provides basic common design parameters to allow developers to independently design compatible rendezvous operations. (Download PDF)
  6. International External Robotic Interoperability Standards – The Robotics standard provides a set of common design parameters to allow module, visiting vehicle, and on-orbit relocatable or replaceable unit providers to design robotic system compatible elements. (Download PDF)
  7. International Thermal Interoperability Standards (ITIS) – The Thermal standard documents fluids to be employed in active external and internal coolant loops, and requirements for coldplates that interface directly to those coolant loops. (Download PDF)

The standards documents are maintained by the ISS Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB) which consists of the international partner members of the ISS. This means that the standards would be followed by 26 nations to start with. Those nations being Canada, United States, Japan, Russia and the the 22 member nations that make up the European Space Agency (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom).

Other nations, notably those who are members of the International Space Exploration Coordination Group (ISECG) including China, India, South Korea, Australia, the Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates, which have developed the Global Exploration Roadmap, may decide to participate in further developing or adhering to the standards.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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