What CAD software (Autocad, CATIA, Solid Edge etc.) is the ISS designed using? Or has this changed over time / modules? With such careful mating of components needed in very constrained environments with little margin for error I assume they do very detailed mating & interference studies on the components?

Are these done virtually within CAD, or do they actually have a parallel mock up built on earth with identical components & modules to ensure everything fits?

Also, did the Russians & Americans use the same CAD tools? If not how do they ensure interoperability of CAD formats? I'm alluding to the massive problems Airbus faced when different teams used merely different versions of CATIA.

I've seen to-scale sketches & drawings of the ISS released by various agencies but is anyone releasing the actual CAD drawings or are they confidential?


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The ISS was designed a while ago. The primary CAD/CAM tool was called Unigraphics (UG) -- which is now (not then) a Siemens product I believe. UG was developed by McDonnell Douglas.

Interfaces are/were governed by ICDs (Interface Control Documents). Data exchange is/was largely lowest (=greatest really) common denominator -- IGES files.


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