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Header compression techniques are now widely used in wireless and satellite communications. The main drawback of these techniques is to weaken the transmission against bit error or packet losses. Indeed, a corrupted or missing header can lead to a non-decompression of consecutive packets and then to a disconnection until the reception of a non-compressed packet. The parameters of the header compression system should then be carefully determined. In this paper, we first review the main header compression protocols standardized for a unidirectional link. This analysis allows us to build a simple generic header compression model depending on few parameters characterizing a header compression protocol. The evaluation of this model in cases corresponding to particular applications allows us to draw some first lessons for the use of header compression in Satellite communications.