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Published on January 15th, 2020

What is ECSS?

The ECSS (European Cooperation for Space Standardization) is an organization developing standards for European space activities. The organization is supported by the major national space organizations from around the Europe. The spectrum of published standards covers different areas of the space systems development: project management, quality, mechanical and hardware engineering, logistics, simulations, communications and others.

Published standards are followed by the major space missions around the world. The emerging small satellite market is gradually adopting selected subset of the standards. The ECSS makes effort to adapt existing standards to fit requirements of smaller systems (e.g. CubeSat).

How ECSS and PUSopen® get together?

ISO/OSI ISO/OSI Application Layer protocols defined by ECSS are being adopted by a growing number of small-sat missions. PUSopen® implements parts of PUS foundation model and PUS services as defined by ECSS. All PUS services and TM/TC mechanisms implemented in PUSopen® are bit-level compatible with the protocols defined by the ECSS-E branch of standards, but the APIs and architecture of the stack is open for innovation demanded by the growing small-sat market.

Why to use ECSS communication in your space mission?

Big advantage of using ECSS-standardized communication is increased interoperability with the ground stations operators and the rest of orbital infrastructure (e.g. orbital data relays). Developing your own Ground Station may be fun project, but it is becoming too costly and time consuming for other than hobby purposes. Re-using existing ground services becomes standard which pays off in the long run.

The structure of ECSS PUS services and transmitted data units is well engineered and thought though. Those mechanisms were tested on numerous space mission over the span of more than two decades. If you plan serious space mission, the ECSS space communication standards are something to look at.

1. ECSS official website:

2. Information Technology—Open Systems Interconnection—Basic Reference Model: The Basic Model. 2nd ed. International Standard, ISO/IEC 7498-1:1994. Geneva: ISO, 1994

TM = Telemetry
TM = Telecommand