As our space systems evolve from single satellites to complex multi-mission constellations, the design requirements to build optimally performing systems increase exponentially as well. But while the number of engineering design variables increases, the allotted time to perform the required trade studies usually doesn’t. So we have to come up with more efficient methods.
But let’s take a large step back first. Everything in STK can be automated from pretty much any programming tool, but MATLAB is one of the more popular ones. If you are not familiar with automating STK from MATLAB, I recently recorded the below video that walks you through the basics in about 7 minutes.
For a more in-depth presentation, view Dr. Kevin Flood's Tech Talk on Automated Space System Architecture Design:
Automating STK from MATLAB, we were able to rapidly design orbits and sensors in a trade study that optimized the performance of two satellite constellations working together to cover both the US and the whole world. We used estimated launch and build costs for the satellites and sensors to achieve a high coverage performance while keeping overall costs within the required limits. We were able to quickly evaluate 1000s of design cases and analyze the results in MATLAB's exceptional graphing tools.
While this was a very specific study, it demonstrates that combining tools like STK and MATLAB enables users to quickly explore large trade spaces and find feasible or optimal solutions.