Quality of Service for Space Communication Services

Space exploration is becoming a more relevant topic over time, with more upcoming missions announced on a regular basis [1]. In order for these missions to be successful, a robust communication system must be in place, and it must be able to overcome obstacles that are not present in terrestrial communications. For this reason, Delay- and Disruption-Tolerant Networks (DTN) [2] with Bundle Protocol (BP) [3] are used, which provide a store-and-forward approach [4]. Nevertheless, they currently lack standardization in topics such as prioritization and Quality of Service (QoS) assessment. Consequently, further work into DTN and BP is required in order to provide the means for communicating and implementing QoS parameters such as latency, prioritization and reliability, hence guaranteeing a robust communication system for space environments. This would allow not only a more stable data exchange, but it would also provide the necessary safety requirements to support missions involving astronaut stays in space for an extended period of time with projects such as ESA’s Moonlight [5], or NASA’s objective of taking humans to Mars [6].

This project focuses on designing and implementing an extension to the Bundle Protocol (BP), providing the means for measuring, asserting and optimizing Quality of Service (QoS) parameters. Furthermore, the future creation of a large scale communication network is the ultimate goal of the project. For this to be achievable, Pattern Recognition (PR) and Machine Learning (ML) will be used. This approach will help identify which combination of parameters is more reliable and efficient in each moment given the dynamically changing network topologies, and it will enable the optimization of these parameters through reinforcement learning

The project is funded by the European Space Agency as part of their Open Space Innovation Platform.






[1] Interagency Operations Advisory Group, “The Future Lunar Communications Architecture”, 2022. Online, available: https://www.ioag.org/Public%20Documents/Lunar%20communications%20architecture%20study%20report%20FINAL%20v1.3.pdf

[2] Cerf, V., Burleigh, S., Hooke, A., Torgerson, L., Durst, R., Scott, K., Fall, K. and Weiss, H. “RFC 4838: Delay-Tolerant Networking Architecture”, 2007. Online, available: https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/rfc4838 

[3] Burleigh, S., Fall, K., and Birrane, E. “RFC 9171: Bundle Protocol Version 7”, 2022. Online, available: https://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/html/rfc9171 

[4]  Warthman, F., et al. “Delay-and disruption-tolerant networks (DTNs)”. A Tutorial. 3.2, Interplanetary Internet Special Interest Group, 2015. Online, available: https://www.nasa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/dtn-tutorial-v3.2-0.pdf 

[5] ESA, Moonlight Project. Online, available: https://www.esa.int/Applications/Connectivity_and_Secure_Communications/Moonlight 

[6] NASA, "Humans in Space". Online, available: https://www.nasa.gov/humans-in-space/ 

Project Members