i2CAT successfully concluded its participation in the implementation and validation of a testbed for secure communications for the European Space Agency


The all-Catalan consortium led by Osmium and supported by i2CAT and GTD implemented and validated the latest version of the security specifications of the Bundle Protocol, which is part of the protocol stack chosen for the next generation of space exploration missions.

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Bundle Protocol (BP) has been designed with Delay Tolerant Networks (DTN) in mind. These networks feature challenging communication environments with intermittent connectivity, large and/or variable delays, asymmetric data rates and high bit error rates. Adding security to the Bundle Protocol poses unique challenges, which have been addressed in the Bundle Protocol Security Specification (BPSec), including protecting data on stand-by, preventing the consumption of resources or operating without frequent contact with a centralised security element.

In this project, the consortium extended the European Space Agency’s BP implementation to support BPSec, so these features are available to all ESA teams.

The consortium also validated the BPSec implementation with two realistic scenarios: one based on lunar communications and the other one based on earth-observation communications. Furthermore, the consortium collected lessons learnt and recommendations that have been contributed to the standardisation workgroups, thus expanding the body of knowledge in these protocols.

i2CAT’s experience in store-and-forward capabilities in space networks was key to the definition of the two validation scenarios and to the execution of the tests to validate the BPSec implementation.

The project was a success, and it was demonstrated to the Agency at the end of January 2024, with a presentation at their Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Darmstadt, Germany.

At i2CAT, we are very happy to support the Agency in such innovative projects, especially in the intersection between space communications and cybersecurity.


This activity was carried out under a programme of, and funded by, the European Space Agency. The view expressed in this article can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Space Agency.