Orbit analysis tool included with the book Spacecraft Mission Design; primarily Interplanetary

Orbit Works



Orbit analysis, pass geometry, related tools; used by many ground operations groups

SMAD Software

KB Sciences


10 software modules that implement equations in the SMAD book

Satellite Tool Kit, STK

Analytical Graphics


Professional mission analysis system; many modules

* Base program is free; modules range from $2,000 to $30,000.

* Base program is free; modules range from $2,000 to $30,000.

immediately available from mail-order retailers, and can be run within a few hours of receiving them. A typical program in this category is Dance of the Planets, developed by Arc Science Simulations, for simulating astronomical events and allowing amateur space enthusiasts to create simulations of solar system events and obtain views from spacecraft which they define. A key characteristic of this program is that it creates simulations by integrating the equations of motion of celestial objects, thus allowing the user to define an interplanetary spacecraft orbit and determine its interaction with various celestial bodies. While less accurate than high-fidelity simulations created after a mission is fully funded, this type of tool can produce moderately accurate results quickly and at very low cost

A second type of system used by amateurs consists of data sets, such as star catalogs, and die associated programs used to access and manipulate the data. For example, the complete Hubble Guide Star Catalog, created for the Space Telescope mission and containing over 19 million stars and nonstellar objects, is available on two CD-ROMs for less than $ 100. Smaller star catalogs contain fewer entries, but typically have much more data about each of the stars. All of the electronic star catalogs can be read and star charts created by any of the major sky plotting programs, again available off-the-shelf for a few hundred dollars.

Space Mission Analysis Systems. These are professional engineering tools created specifically for the analysis and design of space missions. Prices are several thousand dollars and up. These tools can create very realistic simulations, including data generation, animation, user-defined figures of merit, and Monte Carlo simulations. One of the most widely used tools in this category is Satellite Tool Kit (STK), developed by Analytical Graphics, which provides a basic simulation capability and a variety of add on modules for animation generation, orbit determination and propagation, coverage analysis, and mission scheduling. The Mission Utility/Systems Engineering Module (MUSE) by Microcosm allows the evaluation of a variety of generic figures of merit (such as coverage or timeliness) and provides Monte Carlo simulation runs to create statistical output. MUSE is intended specifically to allow the user to define new figures of merit to allow the rapid creation of mission-specific simulations. The Edge product family by Autometric provides very high-fidelity animation of a variety of space missions and is intended to be adapted by either the company or the user to become a mission-specific simulation. Each of the tools in this category can provide high-fidelity simulations at a much lower cost than creating systems from scratch.

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