Frontiers in Aerospace Engineering Volume 3 Issue 1, February 2014 www.fae-journal.

doi: 10.14355/fae.2014.0301.01
T-SMAD: a Concurrent Design Tool for Space
Mission Analysis and Design
Gianmarco Radice
, Romain Wuilbercq
, Gioacchino Cafiero

University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ, Glasgow UK
University of Strathclyde, G1 1XQ, Glasgow, UK
Universita degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, 80138, Napoli, Italy

Received 17 May, 2013; Revised 20 August, 2013; Accepted 5 November, 2013; Published 20 February, 2014
© 2014 Science and Engineering Publishing Company

This paper introduces Tools for Space Mission Analysis and
Design (T-SMAD), a Matlab based software that provides
access to a suite of tools specifically developed to support
the preliminary analysis and design of space missions. The
underlying principle that guides the development of T-
SMAD is to support the engineers during the initial stages of
mission design. The aim is to significantly reduce the
number of design iterations, allowing the evaluation of
different alternatives and rapidly evaluate trade-offs. These
tools take the form of a user friendly Graphical User
Interfaces (GUI) representing the different elements of the
space mission architecture along with the various spacecraft
subsystems; each of these GUIs belongs to one of the three
main modules: payload, mission analysis and spacecraft
subsystems design. The software is based on a simple and
intuitive system of Input/Output (I/O) allowing the users to
quickly and efficiently generate a consistent set of design
parameters. An important feature is the system's ability to
access a database and present the effects of different design
choices in real-time.
Concurrent Engineering; Spacecraft Systems; Space Mission
I nt r oduc t i on
When facing large-scale, complex engineering
problems, it is important to develop approximate
methods for obtaining rapid estimates of possible
solutions. The design of a space mission surely falls
within this challenging domain. Satellites typically
comprise various inter-dependent subsystems and
often cutting-edge technology. The design of these
complex space systems requires the rapid
visualization of design parameters along with an
improvement in the design state traceability
throughout the design process. Over the last couple of
decades, the space industry has reduced the overall
cost and time of the preliminary assessment phases of
space missions through a Concurrent Engineering (CE)
approach. The use of CE provides efficient design
solutions allowing for a real multi-tasking and
dynamic environment for the engineering design
while reducing the duration of the preliminary phases.
Within this paradigm team members are able to
perform their respective tasks in parallel while
updating the design at a system level. This increased
interactivity between team members reduces
communication gaps and avoids information chasing
behaviours from team members. CE has enabled the
space industry and space agencies to implement a
system engineering model superimposed onto the
more traditional subsystem engineering model.
The preliminary design efficiency of future spacecraft
can be further improved by providing simple and
intuitive engineering tools that are uniquely dedicated
to the preliminary design of space missions. A piece of
software for facilitating inter-disciplinary work and
improving preliminary design effectiveness, called T-
SMAD (Tools for Space Mission Analysis and Design),
is presented in this paper.
T-SMAD Over vi ew
T-SMAD is a Matlab based software that centralises
the system engineering tools required to perform the
complete preliminary design and analysis of space
mission. The software links the different mission
architecture elements in such a way that any change is
immediately propagated throughout the system. This
provides a quick and effective way to gain insight into
how changes at one level will affect the overall process.
1 Frontiers in Aerospace Engineering Volume 3 Issue 1, February 2014
The spacecraft is modelled through a number of
modules that interact with each other through linked
spreadsheets. These spreadsheets highlight changes in
real-time and experts can easily track modifications
throughout the design sessions. This feature allows
engineers, specialists and program managers to
simultaneously perform their own tasks while
maintaining a general awareness of the design state at
a system level. This approach also prevents the
analysts from being concerned with the
communication of their design solutions. Colleagues,
working on other subsystems can immediately check
the viability of the design solutions using the S/C
baseline design data-sheet; conflicting design
assumptions can thus easily be identified and directly
discussed if required. By easing the management of
the interdependencies between subsystems, the
software significantly reduces costly design iterations
and shortens a preliminary study from six months to a
few weeks on average. This is shown in Fig. 1.

T-SMAD has an intuitive Graphical User Interface
(GUI) which provides a way to quickly evaluate and
display preliminary design parameters. The user only
needs to provide a consistent set of input parameters
so as to quickly generate efficient design solutions;
solutions are displayed in real-time to allow a
comparison between different design options. This
feature allows the user to perform rapid trade-off
analysis in order to find and select the most suitable
design solutions. The tool also provides general
information about the process of space mission
analysis & design as well as definitions and
explanations for all the technical terms. This feature
helps the user's global understanding of the
preliminary design of space missions, and is tailored
towards an academic and educational level.
Finally, it embeds three-dimensional graphical
visualization capabilities throughout its modules
which can aid with the overall understanding of the
problem at hand. These graphics capabilities provide a
way to quickly visualize design solutions and analyse
satellite orbits in the mission analysis module, as well
as thermal or structural responses in the spacecraft
subsystems design module.
The software is made up of three distinct modules:
payload, mission analysis and subsystems design. A
brief description of each module is presented in the
following sections.
The payload can include scientific instruments,
commercial equipment or experiments. This module is
an essential module of T-SMAD since it does not only
affect the mission analysis requirements in terms of
orbits, but it also drives the overall design of the S/C
subsystems. This module provides techniques for
preliminary design and sizing of observation payloads
and includes a database of existing instruments. This
tool can be used to predict important payload data like
angular ground resolution, swath width, data rate,
mass, power and size.
Mission Analysis
The mission analysis includes a wide variety of tasks
such as: orbital dynamics and analysis, viewing and
coverage geometry, constellation analysis, orbit
selection, space environment analysis, top-level
mission requirements and constraints analysis. The
mission analysis module within T-SMAD, shown in
Fig. 2, provides a quick and simple insight into most of
the mission analyst problems at a conceptual design

This module is one of the most important elements of
the software since it interacts with most of the
spacecraft subsystems. The design of the spacecraft is
actually highly sensitive to the design choices made by
the mission analyst. This module provides very
important data such as the orbit parameters, angular
Frontiers in Aerospace Engineering Volume 3 Issue 1, February 2014
values, orbit geometry for ground coverage, eclipse
profile, velocity change requirements for orbit
manoeuvres, launcher performance, spacecraft
disposal and operational orbit acquisition. The
advantage of T-SMAD is its capability to produce
tabular outputs linked to spreadsheet connected with
the S/C subsystems module. A description of the
various elements that comprise the mission analysis
module is presented now.
The Orbit Manipulator allows the visualisation of the
orbital elements around a celestial body and is
intended to give the user a fast prospective of how
each element affects the global orbit geometry in real
time. This submodule also shows the spacecraft orbit
ground track that is, the path on the surface of a
celestial body directly below the spacecraft.
The Keplerian Orbit Solver gives the user the ability
to plot any type of orbit and convert between
Keplerian orbital elements and position and velocity
vectors. It also returns important generic parameters
such as maximum time in eclipse and the orbital
The Orbital Manoeuvres is used to compute the
trajectories that transfer a spacecraft from one orbit to
another. This element is comprised of three different
tools that can be used to perform the following orbital
transfers: Hohmann transfer, manoeuvres around the
Earth and phasing analysis. The first can compute a
traditional Hohmann transfer along with an optimal
non-coplanar orbital transfer and a bi-elliptic
Hohmann transfer. The second tool can be used to
perform any orbital manoeuvres between coplanar
and non-coplanar circular orbits. It includes: aero-
assisted manoeuvres, low thrust manoeuvres with or
without solar electric propulsion system and circular
orbit plane change manoeuvres. Finally, the last one
can perform a phasing or rendezvous manoeuvre
accomplished with a coplanar, two-impulse Hohmann
transfer as presented in Fig. 3.

The Specialized Earth Orbits element is dedicated to
the designing and analysing of special types of Earth
orbits. It gathers methods for both preliminary and
high-fidelity design of repeating ground track, sun-
synchronous, frozen and composite orbits.
The De-orbit/End-of-Life element is to be used to
calculate the single impulsive manoeuvre required to
establish a re-entry altitude and flight path angle
relative to an initial elliptical or circular orbit. It uses a
tangential velocity increment applied opposite to the
velocity vector at apogee of the initial orbit to establish
the de-orbit trajectory that enters the Earth's
The Orbit Geometry submodule calculates general
coverage characteristics and target viewing for circular
Earth orbits. It provides a rapid method of evaluating
geometry as is most appropriate when first designing
a space mission .
The Interplanetary Transfer Design submodule can
be used to design an interplanetary transfer and is
intended to provide a pork-chop plot for a given
launch window. A Lambert solver is also provided for
orbit determination. Celestial coordinates or planets
can be set as input parameters. The required delta-v
for insertion into an orbit around the arrival planet can
also be calculated.
The Launcher Information submodule gives an
overview of the basic characteristics for existing
launch vehicles. It includes: spacecraft loaded mass,
performance, reliability, payload compartment
characteristics, frequency, accelerations and launch
price estimation.
Spacecraft Subsystems Design Module
The main objective of the module is to quickly and
accurately provide design parameters for all the
different spacecraft subsystems. At the early stage of
the conceptual design, while the designer does not
have detailed information about the spacecraft
configuration, the analysis has to be performed using
simple shapes, such as a sphere or a cube, in order to
approximate the spacecraft bus. This choice is strictly
related to the fact that all the subsystems need to be
sized assuming a worst case scenario. While the
module has been developed to fully embed the
concurrent approach to the design of the spacecraft
subsystems, it can also be used as a collection of stand-
alone tools if only the design of a specific subsystem is
required, either at a later stage of the conceptual
3 Frontiers in Aerospace Engineering Volume 3 Issue 1, February 2014
design phase or for design options trade-off. A
separate tool element is assigned to each subsystem;
designers and experts can manage all data through the
submodules GUIs so as to facilitate the design tasks
specific to each subsystem. It is worth mentioning that
the data obtained throughout the module is highly
sensitive to the two previously mentioned modules, i.e.
payload and mission analysis. A description of each
element within the module is presented now.
The S/C Preliminary Design provides the designer a
first estimate of the spacecraft mass and power
budgets from the payload estimates, the orbital
parameters and the requirements in terms of velocity
changes. This element approximates the spacecraft
using historical data interpolation from previous space
missions. The data obtained here is concurrently used,
via external spreadsheet, throughout the subsystems
module as first estimates for accurately predicting the
design parameters for the other subsystems; i.e. the
mass allocated in this module cannot be exceeded in
the other submodules.
The Thermal Control System (TCS) element ensures
that the spacecraft operates within the acceptable
range of temperatures, according to the requirements
of each component. This element comprises various
tools: Spherical Spacecraft Approximation, Solar Array
Temperature, and Thermal Mathematical Model
(TMM). The first two provide a first order estimation
of the maximum and minimum temperatures that the
spacecraft will experience during its operational life;
the computation is performed for both worst hot and
cold case conditions. The TMM represents a higher
fidelity method to solve the problem: the spacecraft is
divided into a number of nodes; each node has its own
geometrical and thermal properties. The nodal
temperatures are computed by solving a non-linear set
of equations for which the view factors can either be
computed automatically by the tool or defined by the
The On-Board Data Handling (OBDH) submodule
performs two major tasks. It receives, validates,
decodes, and distributes commands to other spacecraft
subsystems and gathers, processes, and formats
spacecraft housekeeping and mission data for
downlink or direct use by the onboard computer. This
tool allows the user to perform an analysis of the
complexity of the subsystem, based on historical data.
As a function of the system complexity, the tool
evaluates the size, the weight and the power request of
this subsystem. It is assumed that at a minimum, the
OBDH system has to be able to process commands
and telemetry data. These tasks can be achieved with
either a stand-alone configuration or an integrated one.
In addition to the basic requirements of the
subsystems, the user can also add other typical
elements such as mission-clock, computer watchdog
or the request that the onboard computer analyses the
ACS data.
The Electrical Power System (EPS) is composed of
four different tools: solar array design, secondary
battery sizing, radioisotope system design and other
power source design. Solar arrays are used to generate
power for the spacecraft. This tool can be used to
estimate the size and mass of the solar panels required
to generate a given amount of power. Photovoltaic
sources are suitable for most spacecraft requiring less
than 10 kW of power and operational within the Sun-
Mars orbital region. Any satellite that uses
photovoltaic as a primary source of power requires
secondary batteries to store energy for peak-power
demands and eclipse periods. The tool allows the user
to select and size secondary batteries. In the case of
deep space missions, photovoltaic power generation is
not suitable due to the quadratic decrease in the
intensity of solar flux. For these missions, an on-board
radioactive isotope system is often used to generate
electrical power. New generation RTG and SRG have
been included along with space-proven RTG for
preliminary design only. This tool provides
information such as the total mass budget and an
estimation of the required radiator area. Finally we
can also estimate the mass of primary batteries and
fuel cells. Primary batteries are used in short missions
(i.e. ballistic flight) or for long term tasks that use low
energy. Fuel cells are devices which convert the
chemical energy from a fuel into electricity through a
chemical reaction with oxygen or another oxidizing
The Communication (TT&C) evaluates output for
ground and satellite transmitter geometry, link budget
in terms of space loss, atmospheric and rain
attenuation, system temperature, transmitted power,
operative wavelength, data rate and signal-to-noise
The Attitude Control System (ACS) shown in Fig. 4
stabilizes the vehicle and orients it in desired
directions during the mission despite the external
disturbance acting on it. The ACS design process used
within T-SMAD is presented below:
• Define control modes and system level
requirements: user needs to indicate the
pointing and slew requirements during the
Frontiers in Aerospace Engineering Volume 3 Issue 1, February 2014
spacecraft operative lifetime.
• Select type of spacecraft control by attitude
control modes: what kind of orbit and what
pointing direction is the user interested in;
these points affect the type of stabilization
which needs to be employed.
• Quantify disturbance environment: as a
function of the S/C geometry, the orbit and the
mission profile, user evaluates the external
torques acting on the S/C in the worst case
• Select and size ACS hardware: all the above
items affect the torques sizing process.

Amongst the previous tasks, the first two are defined
by the user in a pre-processing session, whilst the last
ones are performed by T-SMAD. For a given pointing
accuracy, the attitude sensors need to be able to
measure angular variations of one order of magnitude
higher; so, the user can select them using the
dedicated tool within the Attitude Control Subsystem
Design module. It gives also an estimation of the mass,
the power request and the costs for the selected items.
The external torques are the only disturbances that the
actuators need to counteract in order to stabilize the
S/C. In turn, this tool sizes the reaction wheels,
momentum wheels, magnetic wheels and thrusters for
the operative disturbance environment.
The Structural Subsystem requires a higher degree of
fidelity to be considered acceptable. That is why the
tool performs the analysis using an external interface
with an open source Finite Element Analysis software
(FEA) dubbed CalculiX. Using the FEA method, the
user can: (1) determine internal load distribution
within the structure using multiple load paths and (2)
predict the spacecraft natural frequencies. The
interface between T-SMAD and CalculiX takes
advantage of Matlab’s capability to communicate with
other software installed on the same workstation as
shown in Fig. 5. The user can perform structural
analysis of the S/C for two different configurations:
when the S/C is onboard of the launcher, so with the
deployable surfaces portrayed (i.e. folded deployable
surfaces) and in operation. At the end of the
simulation, the user is presented with a three-
dimensional output along with numerical results
directly on T-SMAD interface.

Conc l usi ons
In this paper, a software dedicated to the preliminary
analysis and design of space missions has been
presented. T-SMAD has been initially developed to be
fully integrated within a concurrent engineering
framework, but we have seen that its ease of use
makes it useful as well when simply considered as a
collection of stand-alone tools, uniquely dedicated to
the conceptual design of space systems. One of T-
SMAD major assets is its flexibility; it can easily be
adjusted to the preliminary design of any space
system, and specific tools can be added to obtain the
required complete design toolbox. The main features
of this software are:
• user-friendly and intuitive, i.e. it allows
performing, at a required fidelity level, a space
mission analysis and helps comparing design
choices with the least input parameters, i.e. as
is the case in the early stage of a space mission
analysis and design.
• users can quickly and efficiently obtain accurate
predictions for all the design parameters
required at this stage of the design process;
Although T-SMAD has already been proven to be an
efficient tool for the preliminary design of space
5 Frontiers in Aerospace Engineering Volume 3 Issue 1, February 2014
systems, its functionalities will be further enhanced.
The extension of the finite element method to the
spacecraft thermal control subsystem will allow the
user to obtain a higher fidelity thermal analysis;
moreover, the inclusion of an optimization tool within
the mission analysis module could also represent an
interesting enhancement for T-SMAD. Finally, a T-
SMAD version specifically dedicated to the design of
cubesats and small commercial-off-the-shelf satellites
could be developed and included within the final
version of the software since it is believed that a
simple tool could further assist in the design process
of small and cheap satellites for smaller universities, as
well as small and medium companies.
Bandecchi, Massimo, Ongaro, Fabio. “The ESA/ESTEC
Concurrent Design Facility”, 2
European Systems
Engineering Conference, Munich, Germany, 2000.
Curtis, Howard D. Orbital Mechanics for Engineering
Students, Biddles Ltd, King's Lynn, Norfolk, 2005, 2008.
Dhondt, Guido. “CalculiX CrunchiX user's manual version
2.4”, 2011.
Fortescue, Peter et al., Spacecraft Systems Engineering”, 3
Edition, John Wiley & Sons, 2003.
Janin, Guy “Astrodynamics Tools for Assessment Studies in
a Concurrent Engineering Environment”, Monografias
de la Real Academia de Ciencias de Zaragoza 30, 121-131,
Patel, Rakesh Spacecraft Power Subsystem, CRC Press, 2005.
Thermal Control and Support Division, ESA ESTEC,
“Spacecraft Thermal Control Design Data”, Issue 1, 1989.
Vallado, David Fundamentals of Astrodynamics and
Applications, Space Technology Library, Mc Graw-Hill.,
Wall, Steven. “Use of Concurrent Engineering in Space
Mission Design”, 2
European Systems Engineering
Conference, Munich, Germany, 2000.
Wertz, James R. and Larson, Wiley J. Space Mission Analysis
and Design, 3
Edition, Space Technology Library, 2007.
Wittig, Klaus. “CalculiX User's Manual – CalculiX GraphiX,
Version 2.4”, 2011.


Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful