Q&A “DME: Mission Performance for Hypersonic Systems” Webinar

This article is a compilation of some of the questions we received during our on-demand webinar that demonstrates digital mission engineering through the use case of a hypersonic system. Please refer to the STK Help for detailed guidance, or check our News page for more articles exploring the capabilities of STK and other AGI products.

You can find a link to the webinar discussed in this article on our Events page.

Q: What are STK's capabilities in modeling battle management and fire control? Can custom guidance functions be implemented? What about lethality models?

A: With STK Aviator, and more specifically Aviator Pro, you can model entities dealing with battle management and any associated guidance logic. This is an export-controlled capability, so please contact us at if you want to know more.

Q: Can you touch on any API links/outputs from STK?

A: With STK, you can connect to various programming languages and applications. For example, you can connect STK to MATLAB, Python, C#, and Excel to extend your analysis. Some users import their own models that take some environmental parameters from STK and feed in their own plugins at a “per time step,” where the results from the plugin get fed back into STK for use in the next time step analysis.

Q: Where are the NASA papers that were mentioned?

A: Here is the documentation we referenced from NASA:

Q: Is there a way to model hypersonic reentry from orbit? Is there any manual switchover I would have to tell the software to do since we would be going from a space environment to an atmospheric environment in STK Aviator?

A: You can model the space environment with STK Astrogator (if there are burn maneuvers or more required than just orbits) or STK SatPro for advanced orbit propagation. At a certain altitude, these models no longer take effect, so we switch to the Aviator atmospheric environment. We have helped users set this up via STK’s user interface and programmatically with a language such as MATLAB or Python. The manual switchover takes the state of the spacecraft (position, velocity, etc.) at the end of the space flight portion and uses that state for the start of the air flight portion.

Q: How does STK incorporate my company's IP, and am I able to provide my customized services to customers? Do I retain the rights to my IP when it is incorporated into STK?

A: You can incorporate these in STK through explicit text files — leveraging a plugin script in a language such as MATLAB — or even create an engine application in C#, for example. There are numerous approaches. If you plan to share your results or STK scenario with someone else who has licenses, feel free to do so. We do not own any of the work you produce with STK or your custom plugins, nor do we own the results that you get.

Q: Are there any other small businesses that incorporate "secret sauce" or IP, and then provide customized services to their customer? How is that delivered? Is there a way to patent the "secret sauce" part even though it is connected to STK?

A: The short answer of your first question is yes. Please contact us so we can discuss this in more detail, as we have options for product or data generation and delivery for customers of varying sizes needs.

Q: You mentioned phugoid oscillations. Does STK model control surface deflections?

A: STK models the surface deflections at a first-order level. For example, if you have an aircraft that is landing, it will start to crab if you have also modeled crosswinds. STK also models different aircraft phases. If you are modeling a Boeing 747 takeoff from JFK airport, you can model the aircraft with the aerodynamic parameters representative of takeoff (e.g., control surfaces deployed, lift and drag difference versus cruising, etc.). With this, you can essentially model all the aerodynamic modes your aircraft has.

Q: Can atmospheric consideration be included in the modeling, such as variations in air pressures, temperatures, crosswinds, etc. in real-time?

A: STK can work in real-time. It can use atmospheric data and connect to the NOAA ADDS service, but that data is downloaded all at once. This would be “real-time,” from the perspective that we obtained atmospheric parameters of a specific day to use in our analysis. If you are looking to do this type of analysis at a time step per time step basis or higher fidelity, contact us

Q: Am I limited to what CFD applications I use to generate data for the hypersonic vehicle?

A: No, you are not limited to what applications you use. STK immediately supports a wide variety of data formats. This includes CFD data; just make sure it is in the proper format. For more help:

Q: What other kind of environmental effects can we model for communications i.e. BLOS (Beyond Line of sight). Does this apply to any radar capabilities?

A: With STK, you can use the Terrain Integrated Rough Earth Model (TIREM) module. This enables you to model BLOS communications with similar radar capabilities. Beyond these options, you can import custom algorithms or data to enhance your analysis.

Q: Can you make plumes with STK?

A: Missile Tool Kit (MTK) models missiles to a higher fidelity than STK, including ballistic missiles, interceptors, and space launch vehicles. With MTK, you can model plumes that can be imported into STK. From there, you can see them visualized in the synthetic scene within STK EOIR. This module is export controlled, so please contact us at for more information.



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