CubeSats, which are limited by size and mass, have limited functionality. These miniaturised satellites suffer from a low power budget, short radio range, low transmission speeds, and limited data storage capacity. Regardless of these limitations, CubeSats have been deployed to carry out many research missions, such as gravity mapping and the tracking of forest fires. One method of increasing their functionality and reducing their limitations is to form CubeSat networks, or swarms, where many CubeSats work together to carry out a mission. Nevertheless, the network might have intermittent connectivity and, accordingly, data communication becomes challenging in such a disjointed network where there is no contemporaneous path between source and destination due to satellites’ mobility pattern and given the limitations of range. In this survey, various inter-satellite routing protocols that are Delay Tolerant (DTN) and Non Delay Tolerant (Non-DTN) are considered. DTN routing protocols are considered for the scenarios where the network is disjointed with no contemporaneous path between a source and a destination. We qualitatively compare all of the above routing protocols to highlight the positive and negative points under different network constraints. We conclude that the performance of routing protocols used in aerospace communications is highly dependent on the evolving topology of the network over time. Additionally, the Non-DTN routing protocols will work efficiently if the network is dense enough to establish reliable links between CubeSats. Emphasis is also given to network capacity in terms of how buffer, energy, bandwidth, and contact duration influence the performance of DTN routing protocols, where, for example, flooding-based DTN protocols can provide superior performance in terms of maximizing delivery ratio and minimizing a delivery delay. However, such protocols are not suitable for CubeSat networks, as they harvest the limited resources of these tiny satellites and they are contrasted with forwarding-based DTN routing protocols, which are resource-friendly and produce minimum overheads on the cost of degraded delivery probability. From the literature, we found that quota-based DTN routing protocols can provide the necessary balance between delivery delay and overhead costs in many CubeSat missions.
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