I'm currently working on "base stones" of future cubesat mission and I'm doing some research for designing or simulation of cubesats. Software that I found on google costs enormous price and I'm thinking about what you guys are using for your missions and cubesat design.

What software setup you can recommend? Also any recommendations about mission management software? I'll be grateful for any info. Thanks

  • $\begingroup$ This is quite a broad question. Do you want a software for handling the parts of your cubesat, do you want something for high fidelity simulation (like GMAT, which is free), do you want something for planning your operations (usually a custom software), or do you want something for TM/TC which may be custom? $\endgroup$
    – ChrisR
    Aug 11, 2018 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ I think a software for handling the parts of cubesat would be a good start. I looking for something to start designing. Later a want take that design for a simulation. I'm currently reading about GMAT and you mentioned it too, so probably it is a good way to go. $\endgroup$ Aug 11, 2018 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ For the design of the spacecraft, I know that there is a JPL tool which uses machine learning and a huge database of parts to design it for you, if you don't need anything too custom of course. Concerning GMAT, you're on the right track, it is being used to fly real missions. $\endgroup$
    – ChrisR
    Aug 11, 2018 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ Do you know name or URL for that JPL tool? Is it free? I'm looking for something similar in nasa open source repository but can't find anything. By the way, when I'm reading about cubesat missions, often they have a 3D model of their cubesat. Do you know something about this 3D software? sorry for dumb questions but I'm really curious about it. $\endgroup$ Aug 11, 2018 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ No, I don't know much about that tool, just that a friend of mine knew one of the designers. $\endgroup$
    – ChrisR
    Aug 11, 2018 at 21:37

1 Answer 1


(I'm not a cubesat designer but I have some experience working with mechanical design programs)

A 3D model is usually made using the CAD file (mechanical design) as a source, simple illustrations can be made directly in the CAD program, for more sophisticated illustrations you can get dedicated software (I've used Solidworks Composer to create illustrations from Solidworks CAD models).

CAD tools are available in a wide variety from free (FreeCAD) to expensive (Solidworks, CATIA). Free tools tend to be basic, while something like Solidworks allows you to do analyses on your design (for mechanical strength, etc.)

For the electronics design you can also get tools, but it's been 25 years since I looked at those.

  • $\begingroup$ Oh I forget about CAD software, thanks for that suggestions. I'm gonna google some CAD software for macOS and I will see what I can do with it. On youtube must be a ton of tutorials... $\endgroup$ Aug 11, 2018 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ KiCAD is a recommended PCB design tool and it is free to use. $\endgroup$ Aug 11, 2018 at 20:53
  • $\begingroup$ For PCB layouts, I used to use something called Eagle. It was free and the layout were accepted by PCB printing manufacturers. I haven't touched it in ten years though. $\endgroup$
    – ChrisR
    Aug 12, 2018 at 15:32

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