• Eclipse Public License

Programming Language

  • Java

Development Status

  • 5 - Production/Stable

Operating System

  • 64-bit MS Windows
  • Windows 7

Research Program


  • Simulation and Software Technology


  • Braunschweig

Virtual Satellite 3

Simulation and Modeling

Virtual Satellite 3 - The MBSE tool for phase 0/A spacecraft design

Virtual Satellite is an internal DLR project that started in 2007. As its name suggests, the initial focus was on supporting spacecraft assembly, integration and test (AIT) activities with a digital mockup and simulation. Quite soon the project focus shifted from AIT to the early phases in the life of a spacecraft, to the Concurrent Engineering Facility in Bremen. Here spacecraft and their missions are born and there was a need of a smart tool that let engineers collaboratively work on a shared digital representation of the spacecraft. This tool is called the Virtual Satellite 3 today and is available to the community free of charge.

Virtual Satellite 3 is DLR’s standard tool to support studies in the Concurrent Engineering Facility in Bremen. It is operational since 2011 and has spread out to other research institutions such as Universities world-wide, and major companies in the European space business. The reason behind this success is that it is easy to use. In DLR’s CEF studies new users usually get a training of 15 to 20 minutes. This is enough to teach the basics to be productive. Virtual Satellite 3 offers all the functionalities to start your own concurrent engineering study. Some of the core functionalities are:

  1. 1. Functional decomposition – Get an overview and break-down the structure of your system into its various sub-systems and the contained equipment.
  2. 2. Parametric design – Define the masses, dimensions and power consumptions of all Equipment.
  3. 3. Mode dependencies – Define mode dependent parameters such as power demands during idle and science operations.
  4. 4. On the fly analysis – Understand your design by automated mass and power budgets (Publication).
  5. 5. Version Control – Ensures that your design does not get lost and is shared with your colleagues.

Besides these core functionalities Virtual Satellite also offers some more advanced features. E.g. spreadsheet integration and a CEF study template to avoid starting from scratch. Using the spreadsheets, more advanced calculations for seizing the equipment and sub-systems can be used. Usually these sheets are designed by the engineers since they already used them for years. 3D interactive visualization of the spacecraft configuration is another key feature. Pure numbers, all of a sudden, create some visual meaning, which allows engineers to discuss the design in a more intuitive way and improve team communication (Publication).

Virtual Satellite 3 easily fits into your infrastructure. It is based on Java and developed as Eclipse RCP. It is designed to operate on Windows 7 64bit computers. To execute it you need a current Java Runtime Environment 8 (JRE) 64bit installed on your computer. Download the zip file provided below, extract it into a folder of your choice and execute the “VirSat.bat” file. To enable version control and to exchange data across a whole design team you should have a Subversion (SVN) server up and running. You can find more information on the architecture, functionality and how to use it in a real CEF session in our last SECESA publication.

Virtual Satellite 3.9.0 CE Download

Virtual Satellite 4 – Research for MBSE in the whole LifeCycle

As part of the Virtual Satellite project there are even more activities in terms of research and tool development. To go across the phases from 0/A towards B and beyond we are currently developing the Virtual Satellite 4. It offers plenty of additional functionalities and is the inevitable next step including the lessons learned from the Virtual Satellite 3. In case you are interested in cooperation regarding the development and research of our tools, feel free to contact us. We are always looking for interesting partners.

Last update: 2016-06-21