Software defined radio (SDR) has become a popular tool for the implementation and testing for communications performance. The advantage of the SDR approach includes: a re-configurable design, adaptive response to changing conditions, efficient development, and highly versatile implementation. In order to understand the benefits of SDR, the space telecommunication radio system (STRS) was proposed by NASA Glenn research center (GRC) along with the standard application program interface (API) structure. Each component of the system uses a well-defined API to communicate with other components. The benefit of standard API is to relax the platform limitation of each component for addition options. For example, the waveform generating process can support a field programmable gate array (FPGA), personal computer (PC), or an embedded system. As long as the API defines the requirements, the generated waveform selection will work with the complete system. In this paper, we demonstrate the design and development of adaptive SDR following the STRS and standard API protocol. We introduce step by step the SDR testbed system including the controlling graphic user interface (GUI), database, GNU radio hardware control, and universal software radio peripheral (USRP) tranceiving front end. In addition, a performance evaluation in shown on the effectiveness of the SDR approach for space telecommunication.