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The integration phase of a satellite program is sometimes filled with unpleasant surprises, particularly in the area of data interfaces among the spacecraft and instruments. Clearly defining the data interfaces is often relegated to the low priority list. Yet, due to the aggressive schedule associated with small satellite programs, surprises at integration time are something the program can ill afford. This paper will present guidelines to follow when designing data interfaces which can help to keep development costs down, increase the likelihood of a common interpretation of the interface, and facilitate the development of low-cost interface simulators. The paper will define what constitutes an interface "concept of operations" and describe why it is so critical to mission success. Finally, the paper discusses the keys to designing effective, low-cost data interface simulators which will both smooth the path to integration and provide a useful tool during on-orbit operations.