Nasa is seeking collaboration with its International Space Station (ISS) partners to draft standards that will improve interoperability between space companies.

With commercial companies such as SpaceX—which has a contract with Nasa to make deliveries to the ISS—Virgin Galactic and Boeing carrying out an increasing number of missions, a unified approach to hardware could assist cooperation between space organisations and assist crew rescue missions.

Nasa and its partners are seeking feedback on the drafts, which addresses seven priority areas: avionics, communications, environmental control and life support systems, power systems, rendezvous operations, robotics, and thermal systems.

Nasa believes that such an approach will also maximise investment in, and the benefits of, future deep space exploration platforms and technologies.

The approach aims to support universal standards without dictating design features beyond the interfaces that allow hardware systems to operate with each other.

“Contributions from the global community will improve the quality of the interoperability standards and help enable development of the systems necessary to meet global exploration goals,” said associate administrator for Nasa’s human exploration and operations mission directorate, William Gerstenmaier.

“Having compatible hardware will allow differing designs to operate with each other. This could allow for crew rescue missions and support from any spacecraft built to these standards.”

Such interoperability standards will build upon the successful global collaboration that went into developing the International Docking System Standard, which provides a path for both government and commercial entities to develop a docking system compatible with others.

A baseline version of the standards is targeted for the summer of 2018, with their first potential application the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway—Nasa’s first lunar outpost that aims to extend human presence in deep space.