Open Source Engineering Tools

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This is a DevelopSpace project to aid the space systems development by providing access to relevant, open source engineering software tools, using input provided by both DevelopSpace contributors and the wider space engineering community. We aim to both provide information on existing tools and identify areas in which new tools would be of use so as to encourage the development of such tools.

For tools that are available, our goal is to provide reviews regarding the usefulness of each tool for particular applications, guides on how to most effectively use the tools for various types of efforts related to space system development, and descriptions of how the tools can be used together. Where needs exist to either create new tools or enhance existing tools, we will aim to gather input regarding what functionality is desired and (when possible) point towards relevant commercial tools that could serve as models.

While the focus of this project is on tools that are relevant to space applications, space engineering has significant overlap with many other engineering disciplines, as such a significant number of the tools we describe will be relevant outside of the space arena.

Please help this project and the space engineering community as a whole by expanding the material available here. Also, please email us if you're interested in helping maintain this project on a continuing basis.

Software Licenses

For the purposes of this project, we are interested in identifying software tools that are free and open source in the sense that the software's source code is provided and the software license allows you to use, modify, and freely redistribute the software without paying royalties or other fees. Software included here should meet the Open Source Definition of the Open Source Iniative (OSI) and the Free Software Definition of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) (where free means freedom).

OSI maintains a list of software they have approved here. FSF has a listing of software free and non-free software licenses here. The FSF listing also specifies whether the license is compatible with the GNU General Public License (GPL), a leading open source license.

Software Listing

Space-specific Software

Computer Aided Design (CAD) Software

Computer vision software

Spreadsheets and Office Software

Because sometimes all you need is a good spreadsheet...

  • LibreOffice (LGPL v.3) Includes the Calc spreadsheet as part of a complete office suite.
  • Gnumeric (GPL) GNOME project spreadsheet.
  • wikiCalc (GPL) Online spreadsheet system that allows users to edit in a wiki-like fashion.
  • Dia (GPL) GNOME project diagramming software. Useful for system diagrams, schematics, etc.

Finite Element Modeling / Analysis and Computational Fluid Dynamics Software

  • DUNE (GPL with runtime exception) a modular toolbox for solving partial differential equations (PDEs) on parallel adaptive grids with finite element, finite volume, or finite difference
  • Impact (GPL) Dynamic finite element suite
  • Code_Aster Finite element modeling software
  • SALOME (LGPL) Platform for Pre and Post-Processing for numerical simulation.
  • Elmer Finite Element Software for Multiphysical Problems
  • Gmsh A three-dimensional finite element mesh generator with built-in pre- and post-processing facilities
  • OpenFVM A general three-dimensional CFD solver that uses Gmsh for pre- and post-processing
  • Palabos A lattice Boltzmann based CFD solver including turbulence modeling, thermal, multi-phase, and free-surface flow, and embedded particles.
  • Calculix A FEM program with interactive graphics

Numerical Programming Languages and Visualization Software

Software Engineering

  • Tigris Website dedicated to open source software engineering tools

Electronic Design Automation (EDA)

Communications and Ground Station Software

Systems Engineering Software

  • Protoforge (GPL) Web-based systems engineering platform for opnn, wiki-style, system development.

Additional Listings

Scientific and Engineering Linux Distributions

  • CAELinux Linux distribution (LiveCD) with a series of open source CAE tools including SALOME and Code-Aster
  • Quantian Linux distribution (LiveCD) tailored to numerical and quantitative analysis

Free Engineering Websites (Discipline Specific)

Articles Related to Open Source Space Software