Accelerate Spacecraft Proximity Operations Design & Analysis

  • Rapidly and Easily Evaluate ConOps Tradespace

  • 80% Answer for 20% Effort

  • Performance Envelopes for Spacecraft, Stations and Visiting Vehicles, Without Need for Control System Models

  • Stand-Alone Executable, No Other Software Needed

Spacecraft Operational Design & Analysis (SODA) Software Application


Current human space flight operations involve different types of visiting spacecraft which dock at multiple docking ports. Visiting Vehicle (VV) operations near other spacecraft or space stations, if not properly designed, pose potential issues with thruster plume loading and contamination of solar arrays, excessive propellant use, high structural loads etc. For these reasons specific analysis of VV proximity operations must be performed for mission design and operations.

Visiting vehicle proximity operations analysis has historically required significant time and resources to perform. The typical process uses complex, high-fidelity models and simulations which require significant setup, long run times and repetition to produce results. This process is inefficient and costly to businesses and taxpayers alike.

Spacecraft analysis teams will benefit from a two-step systems engineering process that uses screening tools to rapidly identify potential issues which can then be analyzed further using high-fidelity simulations. The screening tools use adequate fidelity models that produce reliable results with setup and execution times orders of magnitude faster than high fidelity simulations. They are used to rapidly reduce the operational and design search space.

The Spacecraft Operational Design and Analysis (SODA) Windows platform stand-alone software tool was developed to allow for quick turnaround of “what if” scenario analyses that provide 80% of the answer in 20% of time compared to high-fidelity models. The tool uses less complex but adequate fidelity models to predict the effects of vehicle proximity operations with an 80% accuracy within minutes, rather than months. Such rapid screening capability helps improve resource margins, reduce analytical workload and simplify design of operations. The basic inputs to the tool are spacecraft mass properties, thruster tables, and a surface geometry model for dock-to spacecraft. The tool includes an easy to use "station builder" function whereby the user can rapidly construct a spacecraft surface geometry used in plume impingement analysis. It also includes a built-in 6DOF thruster selection algorithm where the user can specify how many thrusters to use for each principal command direction. SODA is used for thruster definition and sizing, control authority determination, plume impingement analysis and prox-ops performance in terms of propellant use, approach speed, and free-drift rate estimation.